Dress Down Sunday: Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell

published 2015


Killing Monica
[Pandy and Jonny have gone away for the weekend to try to repair their marriage]

She’d even considered bringing a piece or two of the sexy lingerie she used to wear for him. But when she’d found the garments in the back of her drawer, they’d looked like something a cheap hooker would wear…
With a sigh, Pandy went to her bureau, opened the top drawer, and grabbed a vintage silk negligee…

[the attempt at reconciliation is a failure]

Heading down into the private hollow where the pool was located, she removed her negligee, tossing it onto a piece of statuary. Then she stood naked at the side of the pool, staring into the mirrored surface.

observations: I very much wanted to like this book. I was a very early adapter to the book Sex and the City, some time before the TV series started: I wrote a blog entry on the book here. I said then that the TV version had lacked the nuance and subtlety of the book, and that Carrie in the book had a much sharper, less sentimental, but very distinctive voice. I was hoping for more like that.

Killing Monica is, in one way, an easy read – it dashed along with some verve, even though the plot is ridiculous – but it is also an uncomfortable one, for two reasons.

First of all, there is the fear that it is a roman a clef – Pandy is a writer who achieves enormous success with her invented character (Monica) and becomes great friends with the actress who plays her in films (SondraBeth). The two women then fall out dramatically. Pandy worries that the character has drifted out of her control, that SondraBeth and the films have become too big for her to cope with. Hence – she wonders if she should kill Monica. Bushnell has made the routine statements in the press that the book is not about herself, Sarah Jessica Parker, who played Carrie Bradshaw in SATC, and Carrie herself.

The second reason it is an uncomfortable read is that it isn’t very good. I would never have guessed that it was by the same person who wrote Sex and the City: it is brash and crass and slightly hysterical. The plot is, I suppose, meant to be a satire on the entertainment business, on publishing and Hollywood. Everyone drinks and takes drugs and has a lot of sex. Just about all the relationships are shown as disastrous. Nobody is particularly happy. Pandy has a very strange background which isn’t properly explored.

There were two references to the UK that raised my eyebrows.

Pandy wishes she could have
What her English friends called “the black wedding”. The black wedding was what you wished for ten years after you’d had the white wedding… your husband’s funeral. You’d get the money and the lifestyle and the children, without the hassle of the man.
Never heard of this. 

The other one concerns an English woman whom Pandy dislikes, who says
“I’ve always thought [Pandy’s husband] Jonny was just gorgeous,” which meant something entirely different in British than it did in American.
I would love someone to explain to me what the different meanings are.

The book could, I suppose, make a good beach read…


  1. Hmm....to be candid, Moira, I'm not even take this to the beach. There doesn't seem to be a richness in the story. And to me, anyway, satire works best if there's real wit, and if there's a solid plot. Shame, because Bushnell does have talent, but nope. Not for me, I'm afraid.

    1. I think that's the right response to this one Margot.

  2. Fantastic image. But I will pass on the book.

    1. I know - the correct reaction might be, give us the negligee, forget about the book....

  3. Wow..wonderful and unique blogs.Thank you writer.


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