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When I was looking at the free list of the amazon kindle books the other day, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Anna Godsberen was offering her novel Bright Young Things for free (but you couldn't get it instantly, you had to pre order it), I had read her The Luxe series previously and after reading the synopsis I knew that I would like it since it is set in the 1920's which I find very interesting. I suspect she has made it free at that point since the sequel came out a few days after!
It is set in 1920's America during the heyday of prohibition, gangsters and speakeasies - just before it all crashes, in the summer of 1929. Therefore we get many historical references, and with it being set in New York there is also many references to this. The Jazz Age was an exciting time, and Letty and Cordelia decide to seize the day and runaway from their sleepy town in Ohio, getting a one way ticket to New York city. At first it's not good for the girls, and they end up separating down very different paths as Cordelia finds her father who is a famous bootlegger and Letty works in bar hoping to be a singer. After they fight they had and the different lives they now lead will they ever live their New York dream together?
I thought this was a really good young adult novel. You could tell who the author was if you had read the luxe series because it was written in a fairly similar style to that, they are both almost like historical versions of gossip girl or such; there's friends and doomed loves and drama! It has a very teen feel to it, but that's not to say that older readers wouldn't enjoy it. However although I didn't mind it, some people may not enjoy the structure of the book; it switches between 3 characters to give different viewpoints which means that you don't get a massive amount of character development, but this may be what the sequel is for. As I said she is releasing a sequel which I will read, but with the ending that there was I didn't feel this was that necessary; I would have had enough closure with just leaving it there because there was no cliffhanger or anything. It is as if she decided to write a sequel after completing and publishing the first book. Bright young things is available for £3.99 on amazon, which isn't really bad since most books seem to have an RRP of £7.99 nowadays!
When I saw the date '1929' in the synopsis, I admit it wasn't something I'd have picked up to read. I said yes to reading and reviewing it because in the past (no pun intended), I haven't read or liked any books that are set in a year before 2000, but this year, I decided to turn a new leaf because some of the books I've read (like Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper) have proved me wrong, and that books set in ye olde times can be good!
The novel centres around three girls; Cordelia, Letty and Astrid. Cordelia's dream is to go to New York, her birthplace, so she can find her long-lost father. It is the night of her wedding and Cordelia runs away, taking along with her her best friend Letty, an aspiring singer who has (for such a small girl), big dreams and big voice.
Now in New York, Cordelia and Letty find a whole other world that is full of glamour and danger. When a horrible argument causes them to parts ways, Letty finds that she *can* follow her dream although it's a tough job, and Cordelia finds her real father and a new luxurious life with her new friend in Astrid Donal, a glamorously beautiful socialite who's in love with Cordelia's brother.
Although I struggled a bit to get into it (after the first chapter, which I LOVED), I absolutely adored this book. So much more than I originally thought I would! There was just such a brilliant vibe coming off everything, I just wanted to bathe in it..I mean, the parties, the fun, the CLOTHES..bliss.
If there's anybody else out there who isn't keen on historical fiction..I'd tell you to read this. Although the book is set in the 1920's, the novel is pretty much the same as how it would be portrayed today, highlighting issues that teenage girls are facing today. If you haven't read anything historical before, I'd highly recommend you start with this, it's pretty awesome!
One thing that really stood out to me whilst I was reading Bright Young Things was Godbersen's ability to describe everything in such an exquisite way. Her writing is beautiful; there was such a rich, indulgent feeling to the novel that really captivated me, it's enough to get you in the mood for partying in the 20s! The story flowed from the viewpoint of each young of the three young ladies and showed us life in their eyes..Letty's trying to figure out if she did the right thing coming to New York..she wants to shine but is it possible in a city so bright? Cordelia is living the good life with her newfound father and brother and Astrid is struggling in her relationship with Cordelia's brother, Charlie.
Bright Young Things is a fast-paced, intriguing novel that is vividly written. I can't even explain to you how excited I am to find myself getting lost in the pages of Beautiful Days.. this is definitely a series to watch out for!
*I haven't yet read Godbersen's other series, The Luxe, but I'm really tempted to give it a go now!
Bright Young Things is a novel by Anna Godbersen, author of The Luxe series. It is published by Puffin on 6th January and is 400 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.
The year is 1929. New York is full of Bright Young Things, all wanting to make it big by chasing their dreams. Letty and Cordelia run away from their little town in Ohio for the bright lights of New York, with the hopes of making it big but soon get a shock when they arrive in the city. Letty has always wanted to be a star but quickly realises that there are hundreds of other girls just as pretty and talented as she is trying to get their names in lights as well. Cordelia is on a mission to find her father, whom she has never met. He is extremely well known in New York for his massive parties but he also has a shady reputation. The only person that she can really trust is the girlfriend of her new brother. Astrid comes from a wealthy family and is a flapper, thinking she knows everything about the city.
Different experiences and adventures in New York see these three girls' worlds collide and their lives will never be the same again.
What I thought
I have had The Luxe series for a while now but unfortunately, have never gotten round to reading it. When I got an offer to review Anna Godbersen's newest novel, Bright Young Things, I jumped at the chance, thinking it would be right up my street.
As soon as Cordelia leaves Letty to make her own way in a big, scary city, I decided that I didn't like her. For someone who is supposed to be a best friend, she didn't act like this once. One little argument saw two friends on different paths but I would have much preferred them to stay together and maybe see what kinds of adventures they would have had together. Due to having an early dislike for Cordelia, I found myself not caring what she did or if she even ended up being happy. There was a part of her story though that I found to be too unbelievable. On a mission to find her father in New York, Cordelia doesn't mess around and when she does find him, he instantly takes her in as one of his own. For a man with a personality and reputation as big as his, I just didn't believe that he would have taken her into his home and accepted Cordelia as part of the family as quickly as he did.
Letty was my favourite out of the three girls. Even though she had just been ditched by her so called best friend, Letty really tries to make the most of being in a new city. She befriends some other girls quickly, who get her a job and try to show her the ropes and the dos and don'ts. I really liked how Letty tried her best at everything she did, even though she quickly realised that the possibilities of her making it as a massive star were slim. As a character, she was quite naïve but very likable at the same time. I really wanted her to succeed and find a nice young man while she was at it. If I were to read the next instalment of this series, it would only really be to find out what happens to Letty and if she finally succeeded with her dream.
Astrid is the rich girl, used to getting every thing she wants, including Cordelia's new found brother, Charlie. Being the rebellious child that she seemed to be, I thought that her character was going to be the most interesting out of the three girls. In fact, she was probably the most boring. I found her to be quite dull and not into having crazy kinds of fun like Cordelia and Letty. My main problem with Astrid was that she was quite spoiled and as she is used to getting what she wants, I couldn't help but think that she was too whiney and annoying.
My main problem with this book was that it was so slow. The narrative switches between the main characters, in an attempt to quicken the pace and for the reader to get to know more about each one. Unfortunately, this didn't work out too well for me. I felt like nothing ever really happened, even with some scenes which were supposed to be quite exciting. I was determined to finish the book but it was a lot of hard work. I kept hoping for something fantastic but it never came.
What I did really like about the book though was the era it was set in. I haven't read anything set in the 1920s before, let alone set in New York during this time. It was very interesting to see people experiencing things that they shouldn't, with girls dressing and acting as they haven't been able to before and generally, people finding out a lot more about themselves. Godbersen tried to mix some very different characters and areas of New York in the '20s and if it hadn't been for the interest in this, I doubt I would have finished the book.
Unfortunately, Bright Young Things fell short for me and because of this, I doubt I will actually get around to reading The Luxe series now.