Book Review: Trading Up by Candace Bushnell

With Trading Up, Candace Bushnell takes the reader inside the high-powered world of New York City’s elite, showing society through the eyes of Victoria Secret model Janey Wilcox. Through careful posturing and positioning, Janey has used her ambition to move from her up-bringing in a middle-class Midwestern family to become one of the belles of New York City.

But, dear reader, that doesn’t mean you have to like Janey.

In fact, Janey Wilcox is a wholly despicable and unlikeable character. It seems as if there’s nothing redeemable about her whatsoever, and yet, I can’t stop reading about her. She’s absolutely the cliche train wreck you just can’t stop watching. 

As the story begins, she’s spending time in the Hamptons. As time goes on, she is able to become best friends with a woman from the upper echelons of society and get married to a big-time CEO. She’s the conniving, manipulative character you love to hate, and Bushnell does a shining job of making Janey seem like a selfish and awful person.

And yet, through everything I hated about Janey, I could relate to her. I saw people I knew in her. At times, I even saw myself. 

In that way, Bushnell has showcased her talent and done something remarkable. With Janey, she’s created a truly disgusting character and then made her relatable to the reader. Not likable, but definitely relatable. Everyone will see someone they know in Janey. 

As the reader moves through the sections of the book and gets to know Janey, it’s easier to see why she behaves the way she does. She’s greedy and obsessed by only one thing — the idea of becoming famous. Coupled with low self-esteem and a manipulative personality, Janey is the adolescent version of all of us. 

If you like chic-lit books, Trading Up is definitely worth the read. Find it on Amazon.

Trading Up was published in 2003. Bushnell also is the author of Sex and the City and Lipstick Jungle.

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