Published by Hachette New Zealand, 23 June 2015 $34.99 / EB $19.99 RRP
Though I’ve seen the movies and was seduced by the Sex and the City HBO series, I haven’t read Bushnell’s debut novel – the book which launched a thousand ships so to speak. Diving in to her latest novel, Killing Monica was somewhat of an unknown quantity for me, written in the Chick-lit genre in which I don’t normally dabble.
It wasn’t until I finished the book that I began to draw parallels between the plot and Bushnell’s own life. The more I think about it, the more incomprehensible it seems that there is no autobiographical element at play here.
We meet P.J. Wallis (Pandy), successful Chick-Lit author and creator of Monica, a larger than life socialite and heroine of an uber-popular series of books. As the franchise grows and an actress is cast to play Monica, life and art become enmeshed in a series of events spanning pop culture, celebrity worship, fame and the gritty details of a marriage failed.
The parallels between Bushnell, her inveterate character Carrie and the indomitable Sarah Jessica Parker are too obvious right?
This is a great beach bag read. Failing that (I realise it’s winter!), Killing Monica is an easy weekend read. The first 2/3 are highly entertaining. Bushnell is a writer who can easily traverse the trivial nature of the privileged life her characters lead with witty and engaging prose. I was fully invested in Pandy and Monica, enjoying what I’m sure is a fairly robust representation of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
But the novel concludes with an explosion, a fake death and numerous, ludicrous public disturbances and mob interventions. I tuned out honestly. It felt like the author completely lost interest, woke up half drunk from the night before and said ‘eff it, let’s just get this sucker finished…..in 5 minutes ’cause I’m over it’.
It’s definitely an entertaining read and a glimpse into the bedrooms of New York City’s social circuit, but I’m not sure that I really needed to go there, again.