Lipstick Jungle

So this is my first review for the Book Blogging Challenge Thingie. Whupah!

The Book Blogging Challenge Thingie is a challenge my friend who blogs at A Blast of Random and I have taken up in this new year of 2015. We’ve made each other reading lists with twelve books for twelve months in order to diversify the kind of books we read. Sam’s friend Tanvi also joined us.

My January book was ‘Lipstick Jungle’ by Candace Bushnell.

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The blurb at Goodreads goes like-

Lipstick Jungle weaves the stories of Nico O’Neilly, Wendy Healy, and Victory Ford, numbers 8, 12, and 17 on The New York Post’s list of “New York’s 50 Most Powerful Women.”

But this is 21st Century New York, and to get ahead and stay ahead, these women will do anything, including jeopardizing their personal and professional relationships. Take for example Nico, editor-in-chief of Bonfire magazine, who betrays her boss to rise to the top of the entire magazine division at media mega-giant Splatch-Verner. As president of Paradour Pictures, Wendy may be poised to win an Oscar for her 10-year labor-of-love, Ragged Pilgrims, but her marriage is in shambles and her children care more about a $50,000 pony than their mother. And for single, 43-year-old fashion designer Victory, pleasing tough critics may be more important than ever finding the real relationship she’s convinced herself she doesn’t need.

This racy tale of women behaving badly manages to shrewdly flip the tables to show us how gender roles are essentially interchangeable, given the right circumstances. Whether that was Bushnell’s intent when crafting this wicked tale is another story. –Gisele Toueg

What I think-

Candace Bushnell can write about strong, career-driven women like no one else can. Lipstick Jungle is the written proof of this fact.

Sam suggested the book because she knows I love books with a strong female protagonist. lipstick Jungle had three.

Victory Ford is a fashion designer. She is 43, single and totally cool with it. At the beginning of the book, we see her experimenting with her new clothes line which goes flop. Because of this, Victory then has some financial problems. She also has to deal with her Japanese partner (?) while balancing a new relationship with the billionaire Lyn. I think, Victory to some extent, represents the stereotype of women who choose careers over marriage and kids.

Wendy Healy is the type of woman who takes up the role of the provider in her family and is bloody brilliant at it. But that doesn’t make her any less feminine. She has the nurturing qualities which most women possess, going as far as treating her husband like her fourth kid. He resents her for it and asks for a divorce and the custody of their three children. This conflict is resolved in the best way possible.

The thing about Wendy is that she would have been just as awesome had she been a stay at home mum.

Nico O’Neilly is the calm, composed woman who knows how to play The Game. Throughout the book we see her orchestrate the downfall of her boss. So much of being a woman is how to tell lies.

Yeah, she does struggle with an unsatisfactory marital relationship. And she does cheat on her husband. But that just makes Nico real. She has fears and desires.

Overall, all the three women deal with sexism at work and home. For Victory, it’s at the hands of the Japanese businessman she works with and also her boyfriend Lyn who laughs out loud at her desire to become a billionaire. Wendy has to deal with sexism in the form of her assistant and also indirectly in the form of her in laws and husband. Her husband expects her to earn a shitload of money for him to spend. At the same time he resents her. For being successful at her career? For not giving enough time to the children and him? Quite possibly both. For Nico, it’s in the form of her boss who she leads to his ultimate downfall.

The plot arc I liked the best was Wendy’s. Especially the way she finds a solution to the divorce and custody problem. She finally accepts that her children do need her but not every minute of the day. I hated her husband. Talk about double standards and blackmail. I won’t give away the end but the way Wendy’s story ends is probably more satisfying.

The character I liked best was Nico. She was badass! See, patience pays. So does not acting rashly but making a plan and then going through with it. Nico wants it all. She wants to rise to the very top. And while climbing the ladder of success she still manages to maintain a good relationship with her daughter Katarina. I want to be Nico O’Neilly when I grow up. Although I’m pretty sure I’m not ambitious. Mum says that I lack the killer instinct. But in a world where I do have the killer instinct, I’d love to be like Nico.

I read some reviews on Goodreads and I got the general gist that some readers were unhappy with the happy ending. I personally, was desperately hoping for a happy ending. Not because I don’t like sad endings but because as girl on the brink of womanhood who is probably going to enter the world of jobs, politics and promotions in the few coming years, a sad ending would have been the worst kind of disheartening. As if the statement by Indira Nooyi wasn’t bad enough.

And quite frankly, I do believe that woman can reach the very top and deal with the pressures that come with it. My belief was reinforced by Lipstick Jungle.

Rating- 4/5 stars

Go read it especially if you’re a bit of a feminist.

Also, check out Tanvi’s review on The Lipstick Jungle.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: January Challenge: Lipstick Jungle | Anything and Everything

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