Skip to main content

BOOK REVIEW: The Carrie Diaries (2010)

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 26, 2010

Published under the Title: A Tale of Two Carries

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

As a 30 something single ‘girl’ living in New York City, Carrie Bradshaw has arrived.

A strong, independent female who goes through several suitors, stands by her (3) loyal friends, pursues and gets pursued by one very elusive Mr. Big, Carrie cheerfully models Versace, Chanel & relationships and turns her (universally unacknowledged) insights into a successful news column.

That Carrie, we know well. She is a fictional character living the dream.

As a 17 year old high school student from Castlebury High still fantasizing about making it big!, she ruefully admits to having nothing figured out and secretly entertains hopes of writing a book that would change the world. The Carrie from the diaries is not yet fluent in ‘Manolo Blahnik’, though the fashionista in her can be seen trying to break free. ‘If it’s deliberate, its fashion’ she declares at one point as she rescues a treasured possession from certain death by painting it pink. She is also not the most surefooted person in the room when it comes to relationships. Neither Carrie has been lucky in this department.

It is the pre-NY Carrie who finds herself in the limelight this time.

This version comes with sisters - who don’t think being a Bradshaw is all that great and has yet to discover her ‘soul-mates’ aka Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha (the three best friends from the City). That she has actual roots comes as a surprise given how friends not family have been the centre of the wildly popular HBO series based on Candace Bushnell’s book of the same name.

This Carrie is an enigma.

She has great expectations - ‘I’m masquerading as a regular girl but inside me there’s a star waiting for someone to give me a chance’. Despite having a strong sense of direction, she is still a long way away from her dramatic makeover; this one is more of a Carrie-lite.

But she is not working alone. Carrie-lite can be seen wandering the corridors of high school with Maggie, the Mouse and Lali in tow. The prequel is set in the early 80’s. The exact year remains a mystery though readers come close to discovering it at least twice. Castlebury High is a place to relive or live 80’s hair, makeup and music with Carrie & Co. and watch them make rookie mistakes. Bradley, as she is called also puts a high premium on friendships. Their sisterhood will be tested on a more basic level as they set off relationship minefields.

Carrie-lite does not have all the answers. She does have flashes of insight. She knows, for instance that romantics get burned and worries about being one, shows good judgement but makes bad calls. There is a chapter titled ‘The Big Love’ but it is not about The Mr. Big, Carrie’s on again off again beau from the future. There is, however a ‘perfectly formed human with the amazing hair’ who catches her fancy and stands in for Big.

“…sometimes I think all the trouble in the world is caused by men. If there were no men, women would always be happy." Bradley is not bullet proof either. She has yet to break the guy code, and learns life lessons in between calculus and swim team. “These are supposed to be the best days of our lives,” she despairs. This high school may not have instant messaging but instant heartbreak has never gone out of style.


This is a character study – albeit, a tame one; strictly PG-13 considering the latter day adventures of Ms. Bradshaw. While older Carries on-screen escapades are more entertaining, younger Carrie as a fallible teen is more approachable. She does not have any special advantage over her peers. If she is exceptional it is because she has a mind of her own, is fiercely loyal and determined to chisel out a new identity from the traditional mould. She is still expected at NY by the end of the book but before that Carrie-lite must shed some of the insecurities and let go of a few illusions.

Sheer loyalty might bring discerning adults to the (Young Adult) YA section. Curiosity will make them stay. That Carrie is due for stardom soon is part of the appeal. Knowing the character makes it easier to stick with the story but the experience can be underwhelming. The final line is the only big payoff. Mature readers endure high school but long to get back on familiar turf. Fortunately for them, Candace Bushnell has signed a two book deal and they can bid farewell to Connecticut and get ready to welcome NY in the sequel.

Some things are inevitable with The Carrie Diaries - reading the entire book in Sarah Jessica Parker’s voice is one (SJP, of course plays Carrie Bradshaw on the show); contrasting the two Carries and trying desperately to locate the crisp banter is another.

Next up is Carrie Diaries 2 detailing Carrie Bradshaw’s first summer in New York. The Carrie Diaries is in stores now.


By Candace Bushnell
Balzer & Bray; Pp 400; Rs 750

Images Courtesy of: http://www.seasonpremiere.net/The-Carrie-Diaries-S01E01

http://sharetv.org/images/the_carrie_diaries-show.jpg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

VIEW: Of Clarion Calls and Golden Statuettes / By Afrah Jamal

First Published in Daily Times /Saturday, March 17, 2012

Elegiac laments for a fading film industry are interrupted midway with news that could give the documentary film medium at least a new lease of life. It owes its resurrection to a young filmmaker, who mined troubling sound-bytes overheard in theatres where war, injustice or social disparity reigns supreme. Clips aired at the third Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) held earlier this year provided glimpses of her work, including the internationally acclaimed ‘Saving Face’. At the time, she had an Emmy stacked away for one documentary and was just weeks away from winning an Academy Award for another. At the time, she had been relentlessly crusading to rid societies of those anachronistic practices (among other ills) that weigh them down in the modern world. And — despite these glittering credentials — her work was largely unknown amongst Pakistanis.

The young Oscar nominee who took the stage that day would soon be the face of a bur…

BOOK REVIEW: DIARIES OF FIELD MARSHAL MOHAMMAD AYUB KHAN 1966-1972

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
PUBLISHED IN THE POST AUG 29, 2007

Books allow people to have their say. Diaries express what they actually meant. Therefore, every prominent personality must stray from the path of political correctness and leave behind a diary. One way to regain an insight into the defining moments of our history post ‘65 War would be through the diaries of Pakistan’s first military ruler and first C-in-C, Field Marshal M. Ayub Khan, who also authored the book, ‘Friends. Not Masters’. The personal lives of public figures are always intriguing; while their contemporaries indict/acquit them on consequences of their actions, diaries give individuals a rare shot at swaying the upcoming generation of juries. Recorded during the uneasy calm before an inevitable storm brewing on the Eastern horizon and Indian front, the entries, spanning 7 years from September 1966 - October 1972, are replete with shrewdness and candor of a narrator who observed the events initially as a key player…

BOOK REVIEW: Hira Mandi / Author: Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson

Published in Daily Times Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reproduced on Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson's Website

Translated from French by Priyanka Jhijaria

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

A programme about Hira Mandi did the internet rounds a couple of years ago. It claimed, among other things, that the sons of the ‘dancers’ reportedly end up as lawyers, doctors, artists — a few join politics and some even reach the military. These outrageous statistics may be one of the reasons the documentary was banned from the mainstream media. That and its primary premise — the plight of the fallen women — would prompt the conservatives to howl with dismay before scurrying off to bury any evidence in the backyard along with other bodies.


Claudine Le Tourneur d’Ison embeds such wrenching moments in a bold narrative where its doomed protagonist can hail the brave new world and its genteel patrons from an extraordinary vantage point. The expedition to the underworld with the unfortunate progeny and the hapless…

SERIES REVIEW: THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS / Rick Riordan (2013)

First Published inDaily Times / 5 Jan 2013

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Demigod fans who bade farewell to Percy – (son of Poseidon) & the Olympian franchise a few years ago must have wondered what the writer was up to as they came across a ‘final’ Prophesy conveniently left unresolved at the end of the saga.

The Last Olympian’ concluded the five part series wrapping up Percy Jackson & his merry band of demi-gods' extended arc with a high-octane finale and an emotional send-off. Though Rick Riordan had moved on to explore Egypt in ‘The Kane Chronicles’, he wasn’t done with Olympus, its ever shifting centre of power or its hoity-toity god population for that matter.

The cryptic warning heard in the final pages is used to establish the credentials of this spin-off. The gods return in the ‘Heroes of Olympus’ series - distant as ever and in Roman form heralding a brand new dawn with the promise of new crusades, a shiny new quest, fresh faces and an ancient threat. And Percy is b…

BOOK REVIEW: How It Happened

Published in Daily Times / Sat 9 Feb 2013

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
Author: Shazaf Fatima Haider

Thanks to Liberty Books for the (temp) review copy

Gwendolen: I am engaged to Mr. Worthing, mamma.

Lady Bracknell: Pardon me, you are not engaged to anyone. When you do become engaged to someone, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself . . .”
-
The Importance of being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)


Characters chasing ‘happily ever after’s’ are often pulled aside by enterprising elders who try to flag all but the most traditional road to the altar. A fiendishly funny narrative pounces on the retreating figure of Cupid and explores his cultural relevance in the sport they call match-making.

The saga of the Bandian clan comes with a perpetually scandalized, formidable old lady fiercely protective…

BOOK REVIEW: Kasab, The Face of 26/11

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Thanks to the Writer for the lovely emails despite the 'scathing review'

Published inDaily Times / Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Author: Rommel Rodrigues

November 26, 2008 was India’s 9/11 — or so they say. It was the day 10 gunmen held one city hostage for over 60 hours. A day that sent accusations flying across the border, and the fear of something deadlier being traded saw the international community scrambling for cover. India was breaking news for days. Pakistan also made headlines around that time but not for the same reasons.

They caught the perpetrator. Ajmal Kasab is exhibit A in the case against the country of his birth. What little is known about Kasab (the name literally means butcher), beyond his nationality (Pakistani) and vocation (deadly pawn) comes from a hastily complied sketch leaked to the media in the early days of the attack. The rest came from following the trail of breadcrumbs, obligingly l…