Book Review: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things is a novel by Anna Godbersen, author of The Luxe series. It is published by Puffin on 6th January and is 400 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.

The year is 1929. New York is full of Bright Young Things, all wanting to make it big by chasing their dreams. Letty and Cordelia run away from their little town in Ohio for the bright lights of New York, with the hopes of making it big but soon get a shock when they arrive in the city. Letty has always wanted to be a star but quickly realises that there are hundreds of other girls just as pretty and talented as she is trying to get their names in lights as well. Cordelia is on a mission to find her father, whom she has never met. He is extremely well known in New York for his massive parties but he also has a shady reputation. The only person that she can really trust is the girlfriend of her new brother. Astrid comes from a wealthy family and is a flapper, thinking she knows everything about the city.

Different experiences and adventures in New York see these three girls’ worlds collide and their lives will never be the same again.

What I thought
I have had The Luxe series for a while now but unfortunately, have never gotten round to reading it. When I got an offer to review Anna Godbersen’s newest novel, Bright Young Things, I jumped at the chance, thinking it would be right up my street.

As soon as Cordelia leaves Letty to make her own way in a big, scary city, I decided that I didn’t like her. For someone who is supposed to be a best friend, she didn’t act like this once. One little argument saw two friends on different paths but I would have much preferred them to stay together and maybe see what kinds of adventures they would have had together. Due to having an early dislike for Cordelia, I found myself not caring what she did or if she even ended up being happy. There was a part of her story though that I found to be too unbelievable. On a mission to find her father in New York, Cordelia doesn’t mess around and when she does find him, he instantly takes her in as one of his own. For a man with a personality and reputation as big as his, I just didn’t believe that he would have taken her into his home and accepted Cordelia as part of the family as quickly as he did.

Letty was my favourite out of the three girls. Even though she had just been ditched by her so called best friend, Letty really tries to make the most of being in a new city. She befriends some other girls quickly, who get her a job and try to show her the ropes and the dos and don’ts. I really liked how Letty tried her best at everything she did, even though she quickly realised that the possibilities of her making it as a massive star were slim. As a character, she was quite naïve but very likable at the same time. I really wanted her to succeed and find a nice young man while she was at it. If I were to read the next instalment of this series, it would only really be to find out what happens to Letty and if she finally succeeded with her dream.

Astrid is the rich girl, used to getting every thing she wants, including Cordelia’s new found brother, Charlie. Being the rebellious child that she seemed to be, I thought that her character was going to be the most interesting out of the three girls. In fact, she was probably the most boring. I found her to be quite dull and not into having crazy kinds of fun like Cordelia and Letty. My main problem with Astrid was that she was quite spoiled and as she is used to getting what she wants, I couldn’t help but think that she was too whiney and annoying.

My main problem with this book was that it was so slow. The narrative switches between the main characters, in an attempt to quicken the pace and for the reader to get to know more about each one. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out too well for me. I felt like nothing ever really happened, even with some scenes which were supposed to be quite exciting. I was determined to finish the book but it was a lot of hard work. I kept hoping for something fantastic but it never came.

What I did really like about the book though was the era it was set in. I haven’t read anything set in the 1920s before, let alone set in New York during this time. It was very interesting to see people experiencing things that they shouldn’t, with girls dressing and acting as they haven’t been able to before and generally, people finding out a lot more about themselves. Godbersen tried to mix some very different characters and areas of New York in the ‘20s and if it hadn’t been for the interest in this, I doubt I would have finished the book.

Unfortunately, Bright Young Things fell short for me and because of this, I doubt I will actually get around to reading The Luxe series now.


  1. I've heard good and bad things, but I think I'll try it out.

  2. I love the idea of this setting and am hoping to read a similar book set in this time period title Vixen.

    I have also not read the Luxe series, but one of my students loves it.

    Terrific review I think I might pass this one for now.

  3. I'm a big Luxe series fan but I agree with many of your thoughts about this book. Please don't be put off reading the Luxe, I enjoyed it so much more! Wonderful review :)

  4. I am also a big Luxe fan and I've just started reading this and I admit that I'm on Chapter 3 and not much has happened yet.
    However, how much good or bad 'Bright Young Things' is, The Luxe probably takes some beating.

  5. I'm not too keen on this one, too many mixed reviews. Never read the Luxe series either..

    also, the cover art for this review didn't show up? Not that it matters, really.

  6. I pretty much agree with you on this one. I would have put it in purgatory, because I thought it picked up towards the end, but overall it wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be!


Popular Posts

Follow by Email