Bright Young Things
1929 New York. Prohibition and the Jazz Age are in full swing, and three young girls meet. Eighteen-year-old Cordelia longs for glamour and sophistication. Her friend Letty can’t wait to escape from her repressively religious family. Both girls are determined to escape their dull Midwestern home town for the bright lights of New York. Letty has dreams of becoming a famous singer; Cordelia is determined to find her long-lost father, a powerful man whose business career is decidedly shady.
Then there is Astrid, the poor little rich girl, whose flapper façade hides many secrets. Outwardly sophisticated, Astrid has to cope with an uncaring mother who is concerned only with her latest lover and sees Astrid as a tool for her own social advancement.
How will the three girls cope with the speakeasies; the louche men whose promises of work are not all they seem; the hard, sophisticated women in their slinky dresses; the cocktails which are stronger than they look; and the gangsters and bootleggers who rule this dangerous city? Cordelia, Letty and Astrid must grow up fast if they are to survive.
Anna Godbersen nicely captures the frenetic dancing on the edge of a volcano quality of the Roaring Twenties. Our hearts go out to Cordelia and Letty, so eager for the delights on offer but both alarmingly naïve in a city which holds many dangers for innocent girls.
Bright Young Things has much in common with the febrile world of Scott Fitzgerald, but Anna Godbersen is also concerned with how Cordelia, Letty and Astrid learn to see past the meretricious glitter and develop the ability to judge moral worth for themselves. Girls of 14 plus who are longing for a bit of glamour will find it challenges assumptions as well as being a fun read.
389 (UK), 400 (US)