Sunday, May 19, 2013
Review: Bright Young Things
Author: Anna Godbersen
Published: October 12, 2010
4 Gold Stars
(summary from Goodreads)
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. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star....
Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for...and someone will.
The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
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.
After watching The Great Gatsby, I was in a 1920s mood that just didn't want to go away. So I picked up my copy of Bright Young Things that I had grabbed at Value Village a week before, and dove right back into the roaring 20s, filled with prohibition. bootleggers and girls in pretty dresses who just want to have a good time. Thankfully there is less murder and the theme is not nearly as destructive as Gatsby is. I got sucked into the New York social scene just as quickly as Cordelia and Letty were, and I loved their journey along the way.
Each girl is unique and has her own secrets that she's running from. Cordelia, recently married, finally decides she's ready to run away from the small town in Ohio she's grown up in. She wants to move to New York and find her long lost father, a famous bootlegger running the scene. Letty follows her swiftly, eager to be in New York to become an actress. She is ready to do whatever needs to be done in order to be famous, she just doesn't realize what that implies. And Astrid, living in New York with her mother who remarries more often than not, is a bored flapper who may not be happy with the man she's with. She wants adventure, all the girls do, but adventure can be dangerous.
As soon as the girls hit New York, things change. The plot is fast and fluid, the girls having problems as soon as they arrive. Cordelia and Letty quickly take two paths, their goals so drastically different. Cordelia falls for the wrong boy. Letty realizes becoming famous is not an easy task. And Astrid explores other options. Some points were predictable, but I liked that I could guess what would happen with the girls, that is until the end, which surprised the hell out of me. Everything that happens leads up to the end and there is still so much that these girls are going to go through. Their journey in New York has only begun and I'm eager to see what else is at stake for them.
Now I know period pieces can be hard to read. The language is normally different and descriptions seem to play a large part. The only problem I had with this one was the fact that there was way more description than dialogue. I know there's a need to set the scene, such as telling us what the girls are wearing or how their hair looks, but I would rather have had more dialogue instead of just being told what they were thinking or feeling. This did not ruin the book and I enjoyed it just the same, but it would have made more of an impact on me if there was more talking.
The problems these girls face may not be problems now, but in the 20s, times were much different. At the same time, some of it still rings true today. The obstacles Letty has to overcome to be famous very well still occur today, and there are still rules when you fall for someone your family does not approve of. These girls are young, but they are quickly realizing how hard it is to live on their own in the big city. Here's hoping they all survive.
“It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer.”
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