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I am Portuguese but I grew up in Reading, England.

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Sunday, August 09, 2015

Killing Monica (Candace Bushnell)

When P.J. Wallis, creator of peachy-skinned, button-nosed good-time girl Monica (of 'Monica: a girl's guide to being a girl', its three sequels, and four movies) was christened Pandemonia, someone must have been looking into a crystal ball. She might have been born into faded elegance in a dilapidated mansion in the Hudson Valley, but after years of struggle, Pandy Wallis - the fabulously successful author - is cutting a swathe through Manhattan, leaving a trail of trashed pool clubs, shrieking girlfriends, and empty pink-champagne bottles in her wake. And then there are the men: if it is not movie star Doug Stone, with his chiselled jaw and megawatt smile, it is darkly glamorous celebrity chef husband Jonny Balaga, who brings some very specialised skills to Pandy's table.
But as a Monica billboard raises its head above the New York skyline, all is not well in P.J. Wallis' world. Jonny Balaga has sunk his teeth into her earnings, her loyal agent Henry is losing patience, and her soul sister, sidekick and saviour - actress SondraBeth Schnowzer (who also happens to play Monica) - has betrayed her. Worst of all, P.J. Wallis has had enough of her lucrative alter ego. Yearning to return to her roots, she dodges divorce lawyers, lightning strikes, and a giant revolving Lazy Susan. It begins to look like the only way out for Pandemonia is killing Monica - even if it kills her too.

Quote: "Pandy felt an unpleasant click and realized that she was jealous. This was not good. It had taken but one kiss to stir up all those scrambled feelings of being in love with Doug - feelings that she rationally knew weren't real, but which were capable of causing pain nonetheless."

My thoughts on this book: Firstly, let me say that I like Bushnell's sharp, satirical style in general. I loved all her previous books.
However, there are some issues with this one:
All the characters are despicable. The lead, Pandy, is a selfish party girl who rushes from crisis to crisis and falls victim to the 'why me' syndrome. Her best friend is kind of a trailer trash heroine who does not seem like someone any of us would want in our lives for long.
The Monica fans are portrayed as mobs of women mindlessly loving the perfect Monica and refusing to accept anything but more of the same from PJ.
After all the recent gay right issues, a transgendered character is thought to be in Amsterdam in order to cover the secret that she is now a man. I mean, this is 2015! Move with the times!
If only we had a reason for such secrecy... but we do not!
And finally, there seems to be a lot missing from the story. Who is Monica? Why is she so delightful?
Even Lady Wallis (the reason for her recent novel) is disposed of in two lines so that the author can cram in surrealistic scenes of crazed fans, drunken vacation fights, a very confusing section where the heroine goes back and forth on pretending to be her own sister - depending on the person she is talking to -, and some scene where her husband gets punished in the end, which I kind of skipped, not knowing what was actually happening there.
There were parts where Candace Bushnell seemed to go back to her routes of good-writing, P.J.'s feelings about being a singleton and her falling in love with Jonny, but that did not last very long.
Overall, I was very disappointed.

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