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Book Review - Bright Young Things

 Saturday, 8 January 2011

Blimey this "Review more books in 2011" resolution is going well so far I got one review for you today and I should hopefully have another going up soon *dances*

Title: Bright Young Things
Author: Anna Godbersen
Date: 6/1/2011 PM
Source: Copy received for review from Penguin
Description: The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.
Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. Once there they find themselves in a strange world where knowing who to trust can make or break your future. After going their separate ways Cordelia befriends Astrid Donal, the daughter of a thrice-married socialite who lives the glamorous life of the wealthy New Yorker.  
Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age. (Description taken from Goodreads)

My Review
I really loved Anna's first series the Luxe so I was really excited when I heard about this new series set in the 1920's. It's an era that's not often seen in YA historical fiction and it's a period that everyone knows as one of the most glamorous times in US history, well at least in the big cities like New York. The Jazz age was when the bootleggers dodged the Prohibition officers and the Flappers scandalised their elders with their hemlines and dancing. 

Bright Young Things starts off with Cordelia Grey and her best friend Letty Larkspur running away from their quaint country town in Ohio to the home of glitz and glamour - New York City. We experience all the wonder and awe at the first sight of this strange new place along with the girls and Anna describes it for us in such scrumptiously opulent prose that we can almost hear the jazz band.

Interesting plot developments spread the story out across the length of the city as Cordelia finds herself in Long Island at the house of her long-lost father and Letty is now staying with some girls who work in the speakeasy she visited on her first night in New York. We also meet Astrid who's the most glamorous of the girls - she's in a relationship with Charlie who happens to be Cordelia's new half-brother. Her and Cordelia become friends and she introduces her to the bright life of being wealthy in the city.

Out of the three girls I think I like Cordelia the best - she's got her head screwed on properly and doesn't allow herself to be overwhelmed by the strangeness of the city. She bold, capable and kinda badass once her father teaches her to shoot. She hasn't got all the naivety that a country girl would have on her first trip away from home but at the same time she isn't entirely immune to the possibility that the right someone might take advantage of her.

Letty and Astrid have some of  the traits that Cordelia doesn't, Letty has the naivety and has to find out the hard way that life's tough in show business and to become a famous singer in New York may mean you have to do some rather unsavoury things. Astrid is probably the most cynical of the girls having seen her mother go through three marriages and now keeping a toyboy plaything without her husband's knowledge, she's also kind of contrary sometimes in ignoring her boyfriend Charlie when she feels like it but then being all lovey-dovey when she wants the attention. 

The story moves at a somewhat lilting pace, there are moments when things move quite quickly but at other times the pace slows right down and you have to press on to move forwards. It was not enough to make me put the book down and leave it but I didn't read it all in one sitting.

What I really love about this book is way Anna really makes you speculate what will happen in the next books, its really difficult to predict how the girl's lives will turn out and with the incredibly ominous prologue at the beginning of Bright Young Things you wonder which girl will have which fate (Famous, Married or Dead?). I'm really excited to find out how things unfold in the second book.

Another aspect which is consistently fabulous in all of Anna's books is her way of creating the New York of the Jazz Age through the most gorgeously descriptive writing I've ever seen. It's not hard to imagine the three girls in their drop-waisted dress and t-bar heels walking through a city that's still growing and changing from it's 19th century self ready to become the brightest jewel of 20th century America. Like the covers the writing is simply beautiful and I love it.

So if you loved the Luxe series I seriously suggest that you pick up Bright Young Things, it has all the glamour and beauty with new characters and an exciting new story that's not going to be as straight-forward as one might think.

My rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

The second book in this series Beautiful Days is hopefully going to be out at the end of this year although I don't know the exact date. Either way I can't wait to read it!

Thanks again to Penguin for sending me this book to review :)
Gotta dash now


Christina T 8 January 2011 at 14:19  

Great review! I'm glad you liked the book. I did enjoy the Luxe series so I will hopefully like Bright Young Things as well.

Nina 8 January 2011 at 17:48  

Great review! I cannot wait to read this book. I have started the Luxe series, but haven't finished it. I will be finishing it this year. I hope. This book sounds really good one, all glamouress. :P Love it.

Jessheartsbooks 9 January 2011 at 12:57  

Nice review hun although I have to disagree with what you said about Cordelia, I actually liked her the least and thought she was the most stupid of the girls for showing you know who the tunnel for Christ sakes! I mean *duh* knowing who he is and all! Fab review none the less though, looking forward to seeing which girl ends up with what fate! x

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