Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I haven't read the Luxe series, so I didn't know what Bright Young Things might be like, and I much prefer coming to books knowing very little about them and not having read the author's past work - you don't have much in the way of expectations, and there's not as much of a risk of being disappointed. However, I did know that Luxe and those books had been fairly successful, so I did have some expectations that Bright Young Things would at least have a good plot. The cover was certainly pretty (the girl on the cover of BYT reminds me of the girl on the cover of Heist Society by Ally Carter. This might just be because they both have blonde curls).

And I really enjoyed it: the setting - New York in 1929 - was fabulous and well-written and I love love loved it. I don't think I've read anything set in the same era/location, and I think the author did a great job of evoking setting (I loved all the mentions of the clothes they were wearing too. I could imagine it made into a TV series, Gossip Girl or Mad Men-esque). Bright Young Things tells the story of three girls: Letty and Cordelia, who've left their small town for New York - Letty chasing fame, Cordelia escaping marriage and in search of her estranged father - and Astrid, born into money, sophisticated, and the girlfriend of Cordelia's estranged brother. I found Letty the most likeable of the characters - very innocent and sweet - and Cordelia's story was the most exciting. The writing was nice (written in third person past), and flowed nicely - I read the book within a few days, and could hardly stop reading once I picked it up. The setting was the real stand-out for me.

Two things annoyed me: I'm not a big fan of series, and though this does not end on a cliff-hanger, things are referred to that are yet to occur, but which do not occur within this book. The fact that there is little in the way of conclusion there bothers me, however I'm sure people who enjoy reading series and waiting for the next book to come out won't be so annoyed by this. The second thing was the way in which the characters behaved - while I liked them, they were all quite silly, difficult and overreacted to everything. Though I'm sure some people are believably like this, the fact that all three of the main characters - all girls - behaved in the same manner became a little unbelievable. It didn't stop me from enjoying the book, but it was a bit frustrating.

Having read Bright Young Things, I'm certainly interested in checking out the sequel, and The Luxe. It's like one of those glossier sort of glamorous-rich-kids-being-glamorous books, crossed with a historical fiction novel (is the term fiction novel still redundant if you're talking about historical fiction?). And there was lots and lots and lots of romance. I liked it - the intertwined storylines, the fabulous setting, all really quite wonderful. Engaging and immensely readable.
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