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Posts Tagged ‘Candace Bushnell’

Even back when she is a 17-year-old senior at a Connecticut high school circa 1980, Carrie Bradshaw is a budding fashionista, hoping clothes will help define her. “But who am I?” she asks herself as she packs for her college interview at Brown: a beaded ’50s sweater, a plaid skirt, a wide belt, and a Hermes scarf that her late mother bought on her only trip to Paris.

“You look cute,” a Brown student named George tells her before he kisses her.

Carrie also is an aspiring writer. As a tween, she comes across her grandmother’s romance novels: “The idea of becoming one of these lady writers filled me with a secret excitement that was nearly sexual, but also terrifying: If a woman could take care of herself, would she still need a man? Would she even want one? And if she didn’t want a man, what kind of woman would she be?”

At 17, though, she notes, “I’ve learned one thing since then: No matter what happens, I’ll probably aways want a guy.”

Yep, this is definitely the Carrie Bradshaw we know and love. In The Carrie Diaries, Candace Bushnell’s fun, first prequel to Sex and the City, we can immediately picture a younger Sarah Jessica Parker, not as awkward as in the old TV series Square Pegs but still not one of the popular “Pod” kids like Donna La Donna and the two Jens. Which is fine — “Bradley” has her own tight-knit circle: Lali, Maggie, Walt and the Mouse. Yet things are starting to change: Maggie, who has always been with Walt, turning her attention to Peter, editor of the high school paper; and bad-boy newcomer Sebastian Kydd, turning all the girls’ heads even as he hones in on Carrie.

Bushnell deftly charts the emotional highs and lows of adolescent love, friendship, rebellion and betrayal. Just enough details about Carrie’s single scientist father trying to raise three girls balances out the teen angst and antics. That Carrie learns a lot about herself and others is a given, but Bushnell, writing in the present tense, gives it a pleasing immediacy. You may think you know what awaits Carrie in the future, but following her there is a trip down memory lane. The last chapter, “A Free Man in Paris,” with its kicker last lines, is priceleess. It’s just sooo Carrie!

Open Book: I bought my copy of The Carrie Diaries (HarperCollins), which is being marketed as a YA crossover chick-lit. If you want something more substantial, try Bushnell’s One Fifth Avenue, one of my favorite guilty-pleasure paperbacks.

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