Thursday, 8 September 2011

Book Review: Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen

Beautiful DaysGoodreads description

For the bright young things of 1929, the beautiful days seem endless, filled with romance and 
heartbreak, adventure and intrigue, friendship and rivalry.
After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Greys’ lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. But Letty’s not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams—no matter the cost.
Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey’s legacy . . . and take her revenge.
Promised to Cordelia’s half brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights—and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes the second book in an epic series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

My Thoughts

Beautiful Days is the second in the Bright Young Things series set in 1920s New York and it follows on soon after the first book Bright Young Things end, continuing the story of Astrid Donal, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur- a flapper, a heiress and an aspiring starlet. Anna Godbersen is the queen of this  glamorous era and she really knows how to bring the sparkling world of speakeasies, bootlegging and jazz to life through her descriptive writing.

We find the girls having spent an summer lounging around the pool together and Letty and Cordelia are not the small town girls they once were but have found their place amongst the numerous New York socialites who live for a night out at a club in a sparkly dress. However Letty soon realises that this empty life is not what she dreamed of and that she can't let her dream of becoming a famous singer slip away; Cordelia settles into the Grey family and embarks on a new plan to open a new club down-town along with her bootlegger brother Charlie and Astrid's tumultuous romantic relationship with Charlie continues on its ups and downs.

One of my favourite things was seeing each of the three heroines develop and change but like in Bright Young Things, I found myself identifying with and caring about Letty the most  because she works hard to chase her dream of seeing her name in bright lights come true even when it looks as there there's no hope. I felt that she was the least spoiled too, not being wealthy like Astrid and Cordelia and her trying to make her own way in the city made for the most interesting story. Each of the girl's stories was interesting in its own way though and what I like most of all about them is that they're depicted as going through the same problems and heartaches that girls experience today as they make their own way in the world.

Fans of romance will be glad to hear that more romantic attachments are formed although they are far from smooth. The attractive bootlegger Charlie and Astrid are still together but their relationship is complicated and though they clearly love each other, there are obstacles that they must get over. I get the vibe that there is something mysterious underlying their relationship that hasn't come to light yet so I'm looking forward to seeing how everything turns out for them in the next instalment in the series Cordelia is reluctant to let a man into her life after the heartbreak she last experiences but one young man manages to worm his way into her heart, creating another unpredictable storyline. Still, like I mentioned in my review of Bright Young Things, I didn't connect with any of the romantic interests very well and they didn't hold much appeal so the romance was too stale for me. 

Whilst the characters are developed well, it is the historical setting of the twenties that I love the most about the book with the gorgeous dresses, lavish houses, bright lights and glitz of Manhattan and Long Island as well as the dangers of gangs and the sadness and emptiness of the hedonistic lifestyles of social giants that lie behind the glamour. It just goes to show that there was a lot to the jazz age that comes to mind when we think of it.

Verdict: Anna Godbersen has topped Bright Young Things with its sequel, providing an escape to the roaring twenties with a thrilling plot and well developed main characters coming of age. However there is something missing which I can't quite work out. If you enjoyed Bright Young Things, then you'll love Beautiful Days too"

Rating: 3.5 stars


  1. I've been interested in this series for a while because of it's setting and seeing that this was your favourite thing about it has made me decide to give it a go :)

  2. Bright Young Things was just an OK read for me. I'll be reading this one soon and hope I like . I wasn't too impressed with the romance or the boys in the first book, so I hope that works out better for me here! :)

  3. great review! I just discovered your blog, I've never read any YA historical fiction, but it sounds very interesting! do you have any suggestions of a YA historical book that I should start with? or which is your favourite? :)

  4. I actually didn't realize this book had come out yet!


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