Thursday, October 14, 2010

review : bright young things

bright young things, anna godbersen (penguin)

from the author of the luxe series, which are absolutely winning books set at the turn of the last century in new yawk city. scandal! frocks! parties! carriage rides through the park! chaperones! i loved them. (i also loved the game i invented where i allocated each character their gossip girl counterpart) what's more, they were sparky, busy stories with very strong characters and an excellent plot that weaved very well through the four books.

bright young things is the first in a new series. this time it's set in the roaring twenties and is told from the alternating points of view of three young women: letty larkspur, who is determined to be a star; cordelia grey, who wants to find the father she's never known; and apparently wealthy flapper astrid donal, whose position in society is always tenuous.

all the aspects of NYC in the 1920s are here; it's an entertaining, fun-filled (gin-filled?) ride through the era. there are the parties in big mansions, the dance halls and cigarette girls, lots of vintage outfits and a little bit of romance and scandal. there are lots of potentially very interesting characters. as it is though i felt that, at times, they were all just there to move the plot along. hopefully, their nuances will come closer to the light in the ensuing sequels. and to be honest, the plot seems to just exist in order to demonstrate how people lived in the 20s. it's almost there - i just think the book could have really used another draft to strengthen it. i could almost see what was going on. almost - it's a bit hazy. whether i'm shooting clay pigeons with cordelia, avoiding lecherous barflies with letty or trying to avoid sad, gold-digging mothers with astrid. so while it's not as compelling or intricate as the luxe, it is still a lot of fun, and i'm definitely interested in the sequels.

one final, aesthetic point...the cover is a little bit off, a little bit NQR (though the title is in a terrific font). what i mean to say is, it's a lovely set up but the model they have chosen is quite clearly a modern girl in costume and it brings what could be a fantastic vintage effect down to rawther trashy. if i got to design my own cover (and if it had to be a photograph rather than illustration) i'd have done a shot of an absolutely stunning 20s dress on a clothes hanger on the door of a wardrobe in an opulent room (maybe also reflected in a mirror?), with perhaps an out-of-focus view of the city at night out through the window. not that i've thought about it much or anything...


  1. I'm so with you on your dislike of the cover - put me off immediately. I'll definitely be giving it a go though as I also loved the Luxe series and am very pleased she has a new series for us.

  2. could we set up your cover, photograph it, and stick it on our copies??


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