Saturday, 1 January 2011

Book Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Thank you very much to the publisher for providing a copy of Bright Young Things for review. This does not influence my opinion in any way.

Goodreads Summary

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.
My review and thoughts

I read Anna Godbersen's first series, the Luxe very quickly over the Easter holidays this year and I loved them! I featured Bright Young things in a Waiting on Wednesday post in the early days of blogging and have been excited about it ever since. As it was released in September in the US, I really enjoyed reading other blogger's reviews so I was very happy to be offered the opportunity to read it before the UK release by Penguin.
The story switched between the point of view of two best friends Letty and Cordelia who have escaped from their small hometown in hope of pursuing their dreams: Letty dreams of seeing her name in bright lights and Cordelia hopes to find her father in the big city although she hides this from Letty.  Despite their close friendship, the girls soon go their separate ways once in New York, which I found was a little implausible considering they had been best friends all their life. I would have liked to see them having adventures in the city together.
At the other end of the social scale is the glamorous New York socialite Astrid Donal, who is dating Cordelia's new found brother and quickly befriends Cordelia. I really liked the way we got to see the different sides world of New York through the eyes of each of the three girls: a flapper, an heiress and a starlet. Their voices were unique and each had their own interesting story of struggles and ambitions to tell. However, although the girls weren't unlikable, I didn't care about them as much as I usually do for other characters.

 My favourite of the three girls was Letty because despite being abandoned by Cordelia she tried to make the best of finally being able to chase her dreams in the city. She had a very likable innocence to her personality but a determined streak too that made her continue to aspire to her dreams even when she realised there was only a small chance of that happening. Her story was the most interesting for me too because she was alone in the world and had to try to survive by making new friends and getting a job. I also enjoyed seeing the rougher side of New York for those who are not rich. By the end of the book I cared about what happened to her character and I really hope that she achieves her dreams!

The love interests in the story seemed a little dull to me but they definitely had good potential and I hope to see them in the sequel. Although I didn't feel I knew enough about them to make a judgement on if they are right for one of the girls or not. My favourite boy was Cordelia's brother Charlie because he had such a protective nature with both Astrid and Cordelia. There is one boy who is very mysterious and we are left on a cliff hanger about, who I want to know more about.
As in the Luxe series, the description is wonderful and brings the city and life in the 'roaring 'twnties'  to life as each page is turned. The descriptions of beautiful dresses, luxurious houses and lavish parties really captured the period feel and were my favourite part of the book by far. This was enhanced by seeing this era through each of the girl's eyes because they are in different situations. Anna Godbersen's writing style is also really unique to her, like it was in the Luxe and she really knows how to pull readers into a story right from the beginning. The prologue for Bright Young Things was amazingly cryptic and hooking. It had me trying to figure out its meaning for a long time!

Verdict: I think that Bright Young Things sets up the era, characters and plot really well for the next books in the four part series and despite some of the small issues I had with it, I enjoyed it overall . I would recommend it to all fans of the Luxe series. It is a fun way to escape into the glittering world of New York in the twenties!

Quotes from Bright Young Things:

'Love is all right, as things go, but lovers can be a terrible waste of a girl's time'

'New York was more extraordinary than a girl from Ohio could possibly have imagined, that it was a place of wonders where the citizens used the sky as their tablet and airplanes for pens. '

The UK release date is January 6th 2011.


  1. I haven't heard of Anna Godbersen before, but she sounds great! I need to read this and the Luxe series!
    Great review :)

  2. I love the 20s! The cover of this book is wonderful.

  3. Hi Stephanie! Great review!! I had this book in hand the other day but got distracted with other books. So I'm glad you posted this and reminded me how awesome it sounds.
    Ps. Thanks for your comments on my trash to treasure feature. Happy New Year!

  4. Ria- I think you'll love them! You really should give Anna Godbersen a try. I would start with the Luxe series first :)

    Sam- Oh yes! I forgot to mention that in my post. Godbersen always has beautiful covers with gorgeous dresses.

    Katie- Thankyou :D I'm glad I reminded you of it and I hope you get to read it soon. Happy New Year to you too!

  5. About the Coverlicious feature - each week/fortnight you could have a different theme for it e.g. UK vs USA, a classic, YA, reprints, lookalike covers? Then if other people wanted to participate and link to your blog they could just interpret the theme in their own way.

    I think I'll see if I can get hold of a copy of Bright Young Things when it comes out here :)


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Stephanie x