Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday Reads: Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen. So my December blog hiatus got an unexpected goal--read all of Godberson's available novels. I've finished the Luxe series (loved, loved, loved), and I've already read both available BYT novels (can't wait for the next!). Gobserson does history right. Her characters are so true to their time period (biggest pet peeve while reading historical novels is when a character is ahead of her time--unrealistically feminist or willful). Astrid is my favorite--she's one of those girls that, if she had existed now, you probably would have hated her guts in high school. She's selfish, naive, beautiful, out for a good time, horrible with relationships even though she's in love--yet you can't help but like her, root for her, eager to see what happens to her next, or see what she will do or say next.

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. 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.
First Line From Prologue: "It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer." Another reason I love Godberson's novels--her narrative voice is at the same time whimsy and straightforward, easy to connect with despite the 3rd person narrative, very indicative of a gossip column of the time. And each prologue of each book gives you a taste of what to expect--which makes you want to read even though you don't really know what is going to actually happen. 

First Line From first chapter: "The handful of wedding guests were already assembled in the clapboard Lutheran church on Main Street, and though they had been waiting for a quarter hour, any stray passerby might have noticed a lone girl still loitering outside." Like, whoa. I'm not giving anything away here. Cordelia is such a rich character, and Godberson such a clever writer. Most writers, I'm sure, when in a situation with a character who does not wish to be married, would have them leave before the wedding. Ah, no, not Cordelia. She's selfish, but you feel her pain and desires so acutely.

Brownie Points: The characters. I've already gushed. But they're so rich, so complex. Products of their time, written in a way we all can relate to them.

Recommendation: Everyone should read it. Historical at its best.

Would I represent it? Yes!

Happy reading!


Stephsco said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I read the first of a different series of YA set in the 1920s and had some issues with what you pointed out - overly feminist/ attitude not fitting with the times, etc. It's a tough balance because I think writers still want to show strong characters, but we're framing them with our mindset and not of the era.

All that to say, I will check this out.

Anonymous said...

I got this book free for my nook one day. I thought it was a bit out of my usual genre, but since it was free I decided I'd read it anyway. I was surprisingly riveted right from the start. Hopefully I'm not giving anything away, but I loved how the stories of the two girls were separate yet you could see how they intertwined. The author remained very true to the time, and I never forgot that it was the Roaring 20s. My only vice is that the story ended kind of abruptly. I was a little unsatisfied with the ending and felt it should either continue or it needed an epilogue. But I would definitely recommend it!

Unknown said...

I just bought this recently. So excited to read it now! :)

Rowenna said...

Thanks for this review! I admit it freely--the cover threw me and I would never have picked this up, because I thought it was a "Gossip Girl" esque modern story. The girl has a modern bob and modern makeup--when will cover designers learn that people pick up on "historical" from what the cover models look like?!? But I digress. I'll have to take a look at this!

Carrie-Anne said...

This sounds like a book I'd love, since the 1920s is one of my favorite decades, and also one of the decades I write about.

Mary Weber said...

I'm so excited to read this. So. Excited.

Loved the review. :0)