The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 20 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Life before Sex and the city
The quintessentially quirky Sarah Jessica Parker aka Carrie Bradshaw in her early days
AnnaSophia Robb, who plays a young Carrie in The Carrie Diaries

Summer and the City — think of it as SATC version 0.1 — begins with Carrie Bradshaw trying to find Samantha Jones’s shoe (found in the sink). Robbed in the first hour in New York, the 17-year-old wannabe writer from Castlebury, Carrie, receives a call from a red-haired girl (“dyed the same colour as Campbell’s Soup can”) about the recovered purse. The redhead turns out to be Miranda Hobbes, a feminist who prefers to shout anti-pornography slogans outside Saks.

This is the beginning of a book full of cute-quirky characters; who said the only quirk in a Candace Bushnell book could be of the sartorial kind?! There’s Li’ (real name Elizabeth Reynolds Waters), the literally little first roommate. There’s the landlady — a crazy called Peggy. There’s hottie Bernard Singer — 30-something Pulitzer Prize-winner playwright — who forms Carrie’s love/lust interest through most of the pages — and his silicone-boob-and-botoxed agent Teensie Dyer. Classmates Ryan McCann and Capote Duncan (older and ladies’ men), moustache-stroking writing professor Viktor Greene (Carrie has named the moustache Waldo), high school BFF promiscuous Maggie…

From the alleys of NYC and the classrooms of The New School, without the usual touristy trappings of the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building, Carrie lives up her summer semester falling hopelessly in love with the city. Writing her first play (and an attempt to stage it), away from home desperately trying to avoid her father and his new young girlfriend, while attending wild parties and artsy meets in lofts and weekends at the Hamptons, Carrie does it all (including turning 18) in her signature style.

Carved into three parts — Beginner’s Luck, Bite the Big Apple and Departures and Arrivals — Summer and the City is as chic as chick lit gets. The book ends with Carrie landing a job as a columnist and a chance meeting with Charlotte, thus completing the quartet.

While we wait to lay our hands on The Carrie Diaries (on paper and on TV — a brand new show starring AnnaSophia Robb), we totally recommend you read this one.

Carrie Bradshaw is incomplete without fashion references. Here are some things stylish that made an appearance over the 400-odd pages of Summer And The City

1. A blue Chinese silk robe from the 1930s with sleeves hanging at the side like folded wings found in a vintage store called My Old Lady.

2. Borrowed Fiorucci boots from Samantha and worn with tissue tucked into the toes.

3. An old lady’s slip clinched in with a cowboy belt.

4. An old binoculars case used as a handbag and a carpenter’s tool bag as a carryall.

5. Surgical scrubs. She spots them only to realise that they are the “perfect New York uniform — cheap, washable and totally cool”.

6. White vinyl jumpsuit with black piping along the sleeves, plastic dress and red rubber pants. All of which she lands as loot from upcoming designer Jinx.

7. Chanel, Chanel and more Chanel. From Samantha’s $1,200 boucle suit with white piping and her Chanel-clad maybe mom-in-law to a Chanel handbag — the ultimate present that Bernard gives Carrie — the book and its characters are Chanel-crushing all the way.

20 lessons learnt from Summer and the City. Some of these are old, some are new. Some are worldly wise, others not so much. PS: Heed at your own risk!

1. Always look like you know where you are going, even if you do not.

2. Always wear shoes you can run in.

3. If a man doesn’t ask you to marry him — or at least live with him — after two years, he never will.

4. One man’s (or woman’s) trash is another one’s treasure.

5. There’s no such thing as a writer’s block. If you can’t write it’s probably because you don’t have anything to say. Or you’re avoiding something.

6. The best way to avoid writing is by reading. Then you can at least PRETEND you are working.

7. If a woman really, really, really wants you to do something, you should do it. It’s easier in the long run.

8. Fake it till you make it.

9. If you want the life, you have to look the part.

10. Belonging is simply a matter of showing up. If people see you enough, they assume you’re part of their group.

11. Who cares what anyone thinks. Everything you need is in your head, and no one can take that away.

12. A gentleman never wears a clip-on bow tie.

13. If people keep seeing you in the same outfits, they start to think you have no prospects.

14. Whenever you don’t want a taxi, there’s one right there.

15. A gentleman never lets a lady leave without feeding her, first.

16. Life is funny.

17. When you have a passion for something, you hold on to it. You defend it. You don’t pretend it isn’t important at the risk of offending others.

18. When in doubt there’s always Plan C.

19. ‘Should’ is the worst word in the English language. People always think ‘should’ be in a certain way, and when it’s not, they’re disappointed.

20. Just because something didn’t last forever, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful while it lasted. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.

Shradha Agarwal