Now, 23 years later, she’s back at it again with a satirical look at the dating world of middle-aged urbanites with Is There Still Sex in the City? and she’s given PEOPLE the first look at her glamorous, Carrie Bradshaw-esque cover.
“It’s a really humorous take on the things that I’ve noticed people are experiencing in middle age,” Bushnell, 60, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview about the new book, which comes out next summer.
“[Your 50s] can really be a time of a shakeup,” she continues. “Women are married, they have kids, they still have some kind of career, and they look around and it just doesn’t work anymore. They have to make a change.”
Describing the book as “auto-fiction,” Bushnell has written funny commentaries about “mating, dating” and friendship experienced by people in their 50s and 60s. A fictitious exploration of the dating scene after divorce, Bushnell draws from her own experiences (she divorced Charles Askegard in 2012) and also reveals what it’s like to go on dating apps like Tinder as a 50-something divorcée. (“The dating scene is a lot less satisfying now,” she admits.)
“I wanted to call the book Middle-Aged Madness,” she says. “You have to understand that in the past nobody thought that 50-something people would need to go on dating apps and take their clothes off in front of strangers. Nobody ever thinks that that’s what their 50s are going to look like.”
In the book, she explores situations like the “Unintended Cub,” which is when men in their 20s go after older women, and the “Mona Lisa” surgery, which promises to restore a woman’s vagina.
“All of the rules of dating have changed,” the author explains. “[The book] explores all of those kinds of things, like dating an older guy, except now that older guy is 75.”
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Like its predecessor, Is There Still Sex in the City? also focuses on female friendship. She explains that these friendships are imperative as women rediscover themselves.
“One of the things you realize is that everybody has some bad stuff happen to them,” Bushnell says. “By the time you get into your 50s, everyone’s had some bad stuff happen. And these friendships become really important because this is a time when I think a lot of women will find themselves on their own again for the first time in years.”
While she admits taking “hits” is hard, Bushnell also writes about embracing life as a newly-single person.
“[Dating] is kind of wide open because there aren’t really any rules,” she says. “While there are some hurdles, for women it can be a time of freedom and exploration. It’s a time to start over and get to know who you are again before you were a partner, a parent, a caretaker.”
She adds, “I see a lot of women doing things they’ve always wanted to do that they’ve never had the time to do before. So for a lot of women, it’s an opportunity to say ‘F— it. Now it really doesn’t matter what people think.'”
Is There Still Sex in the City? goes on sale on Aug. 6, 2019.