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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Release Date: October 12, 2010 (Australia/US)
Publisher: Penguin (Australia)/HarperCollins (US)
Genre: Historical
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 408
Source: Penguin Australia

Blurb (from Penguin Australia)


Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey have 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 gilled with pretty girls who will doanything 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 glamours than she 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. From the New York Times bestselling author of THE LUXE come an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

The Quickie Review

There is a reason the 1920s is known as the roaring 20s and Godbersen manages to capture the fun, the frivolity and the decadence the 20s was renowned for in an entertaining, engrossing and realistic read.

The Full Blown Review

The year is 1929 and best friends Cordelia Gray and Letitia Haubstadt have dreamed of the day they’ll leave their small town for the bright lights of New York City where all the Bright Young Things are. Their chance comes sooner than expected when Cordelia makes the decision to escape to New York on the day of her marriage - a marriage which she never wanted - seeing this as her last opportunity of ever making it there. Letty persuaded by Cordelia’s assertion of “you’ll never be a star if you stay here” join’s her. Whilst on their journey to New York Letty decides to change her name to Letty Larkspur, a name which she believes encapsulates her soon to be new “shiny and worthy of notice” life. However once in New York the girls soon find out that perhaps New York is not all it’s cracked up to be after Cordelia’s deception towards Letty regarding her true reasons for coming to New York is revealed and the girls go their separate ways.

Whilst separated Cordelia tracks down her long lost father - which happened to be her whole reason for coming to New York - and is suddenly introduced into a whole new world where wealth is flaunted and loving the wrong man can be dangerous. It is in this glittering setting where Cordelia meets Astrid Donal, a wealthy flapper in love with Cordelia’s brother, Charlie, who decides to take Cordelia under her protective wing. Meanwhile Letty is making it by as a cigarette girl in one of Manhattan’s numerous speakeasies attracting the attention of several men, some more respectable than others, soon discovering that it’s not just her singing talents many are interested in.

I have a confession I haven’t really read many historical novels before (oh I have read a lot of the classics just not much of the newer historical fiction), I just haven’t found many that have interested me but if all historical novels are as absorbing and as realistically written as Bright Young Things I’ll definitely be giving more a try. I found the realistic writing to be one of the main strengths of this book as I believe for a historical novel to sound convincing it needs a realistic tone and dialogue that is in keeping with the era it’s written in and Godbersen manages to pull this off effortlessly taking the reader back to a time where everyone seemed a lot more polite and genteel.

I also loved the setting, before reading this book I couldn’t even begin to envision what New York was like in the 20s but with Anna’s exquisite and descriptive imagery of the isle of Manhattan as well as the fabulous fashions of the time I was taken on a journey back into 1920s New York a place which I wouldn’t mind visiting.

From the moment I read the prologue I was hooked, it definitely draws you in especially the ominous sentence describing the fate of three girls where “one would be famous, one would be married and one would be dead”, how can you not want to read on after a revelation like that?

As is evident from my blurb there’s a lot happening in this book as we follow all three girls - Letty, Cordelia and Astrid - through their highs and lows yet it’s never confusing and always flows together. Of course there is a romance aspect to the book but it’s not the sole aspect of the novel, the friendships these girls make and loose are just as important.

I enjoyed reading about all of the girls as they each were their own woman. Letty may have been na├»ve yet she showed an amazing strength of character, Cordelia was always so sure of herself, underneath however she was dealing with her own demons from her past and Astrid was the socialite with the seemingly perfect life but beneath it all she was just as insecure as many young girls are. Whilst these girls seemed so different from one another there was one common thread that connected them which was the lack of a caring loving family, Letty’s father was miserable and unkind, Cordelia was raised by her harsh uncaring aunt and Astrid’s mother collected men like it was going out of fashion. So no matter how different these girls lives seem some things are universal no matter what social class or town you come from.

The dapper young men in Bright Young Things were just as interesting as the girls particularly so because they were very mysterious from Cordelia’s forbidden romance with Thom to Letty’s smitten admirer Grady and Astrid’s love of the aloof Charlie.

The final pages were a blur to me so much was packed into them I ate it up. The ending was a satisfying one, whilst there were plot points left in the open none were left dangling there taunting me, that said I can’t wait until the second book in the series will be released, I’m hooked on these girls and their fascinating lives.

So for those of you who don’t think historical fiction is for you I urge you to give this a try just for the beautiful imagery of the city and the fashions alone, you won’t be disappointed.


4 out of 5

There’s Another Book?!?

According to Harper Collins’ website Bright Young Things is the “first in an epic four-book series” that's all I know at the moment but I’ll keep you guys posted when I find out more.

Flapper Fashion

After reading this book I’ve been on a google picture search binge looking up all the pretty flapper fashions of the decade. So for your viewing pleasure I’ve included some of my favourites so you can see just how stunning the fashion from the 20s actually was, enjoy!


For anyone that’s interested this is a video I found in YouTube showing a montage of Flappers from the 20’s, love it!

I also found this cool video of the cover shoot for Bright Young Things on YouTube.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

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Romy @
Greetings fellow blog readers, welcome to my blog and thank you for stopping by. Now you may be wondering who is Well is also known as Romy, a 23 year old graduate student from Australia who loves to read. I read (maybe devour would be a more appropriate word) largely young adult novels, with a particular love of fantasy and paranormal novels, however I am also a sucker for a good romance.
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