In brief: PJ Wallis is the creator of Monica, the girl everyone wants to be. But now Monica’s ruined her friendships and her marriage. PJ wants out and the only way to do that is kill Monica…
The good: It is hilariously funny, crazy and wonderful.
The not-so-good: I read it in a day (not technically bad- I just had a free day to devour this).
Why I chose it: Love Candace Bushnell’s books.
Setting: Primarily New York City
My rating: 9 out of 10
Killing Monica despite the violent nature of the title, is a wonderfully warm and witty romp through a writer’s eyes. It takes in the hit series of movies created from the author’s books, the actress who rose to stardom and the shoes…hang on, doesn’t this all sound a bit familiar? PJ Wallis (aka Pandy) created the story of Monica, the girl’s guide to being a girl for her sister growing up. As a struggling writer in New York City, she penned the story of Monica which became an instant success. Monica then became a movie, starring SondraBeth Schnowzer and then there were the inevitable follow-ups. Monica is the girl every woman wants to be with the reveal of her shoes a closely watched event each year.
If you’re thinking that this could be a thinly veiled version of Sex and the City, you don’t get a prize. It’s spelled out for you on the cover that Bushnell is the author of Sex and the City and everyone knows Carrie Bradshaw and her shoe closet. Don’t diss this book as SATC in cloak and dagger form though because you’ll miss out on this crazy, witty story that marks Bushnell as an excellent comic writer. Like me, you might be used to Bushnell’s books being about social climbing, intricate relationships and the wonderfully named characters. I was a little concerned reading this back to back with Everybody Rise, but I shouldn’t have been. Killing Monica is a new direction for Bushnell and in my opinion, a successful one. There’s no social climbing, but there are some very interesting relationships and given PJ’s given name is Pandemonia, there’s some awesome names too.
I think given the subject of the story – that Pandy’s creation of Monica has taken over her life and been responsible for losing a great friend and her marriage – it’s easy to make comparisons with SATC. While I am a fan, I’m not a big one (sorry, I prefer Clarkson-era Top Gear) and it was easy for me to separate the real life events from the story. The plot is fast moving and easily carries you away. Bushnell also has the ability to know what her reader wants, so just when you’re thinking, ‘but I want to read about how Pandy and SondraBeth were such crazy best friends’, she’ll deliver. Just as the plot is getting a bit sad (Pandy’s new book is rejected, meaning she can’t settle with her very nearly ex-husband), the story moves to the glittering days of Monica, when all was new and brilliant.
The overall theme is how Pandy’s creation now defines who she is. Everybody wants Monica, not Pandy (even though Pandy repeatedly says that she is the original Monica). Nobody wants to hear what Pandy has to say unless it’s about Monica. Everyone puts Monica into conversation with Pandy (should try get divorced? Wouldn’t online dating be hilarious for Monica to try?). Hence, there’s only one thing to do to get Pandy back – kill Monica. The plan comes to fruition in bizarre circumstances and Pandy, in a daze, rolls with it. What starts off as a misunderstanding grows to King Kong sized proportions (or should I say giant Monica proportions) and it’s one hell of a crazy ride. It does require you to suspend disbelief and enjoy it for its comic nature. Perhaps one of the reasons why some people didn’t like this is because it’s meant to be crazily funny, not sedate and realistic. Another could be the inevitable parallels with Carrie and SATC. I think if you can separate them, you’ll enjoy this book. The characters, while not particularly likeable (SondraBeth in particular has some huge WTF moments) are instrumental in creating the constant drama. . It’s outlandish fun, written well and certainly without a dull moment.