Lifestyle: Spotlights

Haute Spot

‘Sex and the City’ Comes to the Country
By Dawn Watson - August 26, 2019

The title of her most famous work might have her pegged as the ultimate Manhattan insider, but Candace Bushnell is, admittedly, a Hamptons gal at heart. 

Happy to call herself a “year-rounder,” the Sag Harbor resident has injected quite a lot of the South Fork into her newest book, “Is There Still Sex in the City?” And, despite the title, much of the story actually comes from her experiences and observations gathered right here on the East End. 

“The book was definitely inspired by the Hamptons,” reports Bushnell, who has featured the area in many of her works. 

Set in “the Village,” a fictionalized catchall locale, as well as the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the author’s latest focuses on themes that a more mature audience — i.e. the Hamptons primary demographic — can most definitely relate to. Additionally, East End readers will also enjoy being able to point out some of their favorite spots, as described by the author of “The Carrie Diaries,” “Lipstick Jungle,” “Trading Up” “4 Blondes” and ”One Fifth Avenue.”

“It’s that place where people who have the option can come and go from the city,” Bushnell says of why she chose to live here, and in explanation for the popularity of and perennial interest in the Hamptons for the second- and third-home set. “There’s a cultural scene and a vibrancy, but still with that ideal ‘small town feel,’ which makes it the perfect place to go back and forth to all year long.” 

Very much like “Sex and the City” did, this novel crackles with Bushnell’s trademark turn-of-phrase and wit. It also draws substantially from her real life and the adventures of her nearest and dearest. Yet instead of chronicling the exploits of 30-somethings named Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, this most recent novel features a new squad of older and wiser female protagonists — Sassy, Kitty, Queenie, Tilda, Tia, Marilyn and Candace — whose midlife romance and relationships are shared, examined, laughed about and lamented. 

“It’s funny and poignant, I hope,” says Bushnell of the book that she wanted to name “Middle-Aged Madness” but was overruled before it came time to print. “It captures the absurdities of ‘the new middle age’ and some of the problems and joys that we face now that we’re older.” 

There are a lot of brutal truths in the novel, which takes a deep dive into dating and mating in your 50s. Divorce, death, plastic surgery, Tinder at the half-century mark, female invisibility and the fear of dying alone are definitely top of mind. 

“In our 20s and early 30s, we have these very vague, fuzzy assumptions about getting older,” Bushnell says. “But as we age, we have to face those things, which frequently comes down to battling ourselves and our own internalized ageism.” 

It’s not all bad, though. There’s also a real ray of hopefulness there. Starting fresh, reinvention, life mastery, self-sufficiency and, of course, strong female bonds are also at the center of the book. 

True to that idea of manifesting greater productivity later in life, there’s no real slowing down for Bushnell at this age or stage of her own. When she’s home out East, she loves to take her dogs, standard poodles named Pepper and Prancer, for a swim in the bay or take herself for a nice long walk, bike ride or paddleboard. Hitting the local farm stands, cooking, entertaining, dining out and visiting with friends are also frequent activities for the busy author. 

Professionally, she’s also enjoying her share of satisfaction and success. ABC has optioned “One Fifth Avenue” for a scripted series and “Trading Up” is on the radar of development executives for either a television show or film. Currently “Is There Still Sex in the City?” is slated to become a series, for Netflix.  

As yet, it’s too soon to know who will fill the shoes of these modern-day middle-aged heroines. But, Bushnell insists, the ladies will stay true to what’s on the page.  

“It’s very exciting. We are working on the script right now,” she says. “And yes. They HAVE to be in their 50s.” 

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