Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

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 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 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 (from publishers site)

When I got this book I was enticed by the cover - it sparkles and looks quite decadent and completely captured my imagination. I thought it looked like a fun and classy read, which *dun dun dun*... it absolutely is.

A Bit About the Girls in the Book

Bright Young Things is told from three POV's, each in third person. The girls intersect in each others lives at different points of the novel.
Letty: Talented and dreaming of making it famous in Broadway with her stunning voice. She finds work in a nightclub and loses a some of her innocence along the way...
Cordelia: She leaves her man on the night of their wedding, runs off to New York in search of the father she's never met - an infamous, madly wealthy bootlegger (whiskey smuggler) who throws decadent parties.
Astrid: A flapper, rich and privileged and completely fun and likeable. She's just come home after boarding school, has a few drama's with her boyfriend, and thinks the boy working in the stables is particularly cute...  (Astrid is the girl on the cover)
Some thoughts from me 

This book is dazzling. It so perfectly brings to life an era that is a stunning backdrop for the tale of these three girls. It opens with a prologue that tells us about Astrid, Cordelia and Letty: one will end up married, one will be famous and one will be dead. OooOooh :)

I was thinking it would be one of those delicious guilty pleasure reads (which I absolutely crave sometimes). It was delicious, but it didn't feel like a guilty pleasure because it's so fantastically written.

There are two things that really impressed me about this book

1. Godbersen's gift at story telling. She takes three girls in one glamorous era and weaves their stories so effortlessly along. Each story had its own drama's and villains and complications and I love how the girls paths criss-cross together. Godbersen has a flair for capturing your attention and holding it.
2. The richness of the prose so suited to the era. The descriptions and dialogue and setting is all explored with a unique flavour that adds to the authenticity of the time - yet the story is not bogged down in world-building at all. In fact, it raced along so that there was never a blah moment.

As for the characters, despite the glamorous situations the girls are caught up in, at it's core, they are just teen girls dreaming big, wanting adventure, one crushing on the hot forbidden boy, another doubting her boyfriend's faithfulness, and above all, they're searching for their place in the world.

I love some of the ambiguity with a few of the guys - you are never quite sure if they are the good guy or the bad guy or somewhere in between. (Bring on the sequel so I can figure it out!)

One thing niggles at me: the entire novel takes place in just over two weeks, which does seem a little incredulous in hindsight, but didn't bother me while reading it as I was just getting swept along with it all.

Recommended: Godbersen really is a fantastic storyteller and if this premise captures you at all - you will not be disappointed with Bright Young Things. It's atmospheric and daring and fun and the twists and turns are always a little unexpected. 4 stars of delicious indulgence from me :)

Bright Young Things is available now

Bright Young Things is the first in a series. I don't read many series, but I think this one ends just perfectly - on a lovely-(ish) note for the girls, but also - argh... I need to know what is going to happen next. Especially regarding Thom (I'm rooting for him). 

Bright Young Things @ Penguin
Read the prologue

Watch the fashion shoot for the making of the cover below:

Thank you to Penguin Australia for sending me this review copy


  1. Dazzling? Cool. I must check this one out from the library :)

  2. I'm SO digging the cover for Beautiful Days. ;) Great review, Nomes! I really don't know what to say. I think you said all that needed to be said. I'm really excited to see where Anna takes this series, and if they will be met with the big stock market crash.

    I wonder what you'll be attacking next.

  3. I have had my eye on this book ever since it first made its way onto a Waiting for Wednesday post. The thing that got me about the book besides of course the cover is the setting. I have always been fascinated by the Roaring Twenties. I grew up watching films about that era being able to read a YA book about it is exciting.

    I am so glad you really liked this book. Can't wait to get it to.

  4. @ Juju - hope your library has it!

    @ Cassie - thanks. And LOL @ attacking! me? haha. I think you mean, what will I be reading next ;) I'm reading an Aussie book called Brown Skin Blue and liking it ever so much...

    @ Jan - I think you'll get into this one. x

  5. Anna Godberson's books always have the most stunning covers. Her Luxe books are currently on my shelf..waiting to be read (I really must rush through my TBR pile!)

    I love this deliciously indulgent review :D

  6. Great review! I really need to check this one out.

  7. Great review Nomes! I will have to put it on my TBR list for when I am in the mood for a 'delicious guilty pleasure read'. I've got Luxe here waiting to be day :)

  8. you gotta love a historical novel! xx

  9. I too really enjoyed BYT, I just cannot find the words to review it. YOu have done a fantastic job of it though :)
    Tye x

  10. The book does sound amazing! Its already on my TBR . Great review! I can't wait to read the novel.

  11. I'd heard about this book but wasn't really interested until you wrote that it is set in the 20's. An refreshing change compared to other things around today. I really like how straight forward your reviews always are!

  12. I feel bad that I didn't pay this book any attention until now! But it's sort of better because now I don't have to wait for it to come out-it's already available! I'm not familiar with Godbersen's other series but I'll have to try it sometime soon. Excellent review as always!

  13. I honestly began to read your review thinking this book didn't interest me at all, but now I'm thinking... tempted! I like the idea of feeling truly immersed in the era, plus the characters sound fab. And your choice of the word 'dazzling' is the clincher. I'll add this to the wishlist!

  14. Wow, cool. The cover had me drooling. Looks and sounds like a perfect guilty pleasure to sweeten the cold autumn!

  15. oh i really do need to read this book!.

    at the moment it's just sitting there looking at me. you have me convinced though!

  16. Great review Nomes. I love historicals that aren't all victorianish. I'll have to definitely check this one out.

  17. i thought the characters were a little underdeveloped and their voices sounded kinds samesame... and it was a bit like she just trotted out all the cliches of the 20s.
    i loved the luxe (a lot) but was a bit disappointed by this one.
    plus, unlike everybody else (!!) i didn't love the cover.
    HOWEVER - it was a very fun read. i liked it. i just don't think it is as accomplished as the luxe.

  18. I just ordered me self a copy of this one - I'm still waiting for it - and I'm really excited about it.

    I think the girl in the cover is also "Elizabeth" in the Luxe series (I'm sure I read it somewhere)


Thanks for the commenty love :)