Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Enter the Flappers

Somewhere in the back of my head, while reading Vixen, I learned that I'm glad I wasn't born a girl. And it's not for the patriarchal reasons that most men might come up with, but because when it comes to cruelty, you girls take the cake. Boys will physically bully the weaker one, but girls destroy you socially, emotionally, mentally - which is far worse than the bruise on your forearm.

Jillian Larkin created a world - set in the 1920s, the flapper generation (not to mention the age of the Lost Generation where expatriates roamed around other countries, each writing great novels) - that sucks you right in and leads you down the path of three lives of three rather stunning girls.

There's Gloria, a top-notch socialite whose engagement to Sebastian "Bastian" Grey only means a life of boredom for her. In a last attempt of adventure, Gloria sets off with friend Marcus Eastman to the most notorious speakeasy in Chicago - the Green Mill. There, Gloria is lured into the world of the flapper. She's seduced by their allure and their brash lifestyle. The singer on the stage sparks her most wildest dream of singing in front of a live crowd - a dream that would never be realized as long as she is engaged to marry Bastian. Most of all, she feels a sudden magnetic attraction to the piano player and jazz musician, Jerome Johnson.

Then there's Clara, Gloria's cousin from Pennsylvania, who arrives to Chicago under the assumption to help Gloria with her wedding. Truth is, Clara's running away from the life she led in New York. She plots to use Chicago as a fresh start. There she is drawn into her cousin's secrets and her inner circle. Most of all, she is drawn to Marcus Eastman. However, strange notes start arriving - first mysteriously left in her room - and a ghost from her past resurfaces. Clara is faced with her secret life unraveling while keeping up her act.

And finally, there's Lorraine, Gloria's closet friend. As she realizes those in her world are slowly drifting in several directions, she begins to scheme how to get them back. However, the more she schemes against her best friend and Clara, the deeper she digs her grave.

Jillian Larkin breathes a unique life into each of her characters, never afraid to turn the tables at a whim. Vixen is probably the best young adult novel I've read this year (that's not saying a lot considering it's the first I've read this year). Best of all, it lacks what is taken too seriously these days - you won't find cell phones, wizards or vampires in this novel. Instead, you get the sheer glamor  of a lifestyle your grandparents probably enjoyed or were against. You are dropped into a world where communication between friends isn't as easy as signing onto an instant messenger or picking up your cellphone to text. No, Larkin picked the 1920s because things were difficult back than, while at the same time being much simpler. She created a love story we wouldn't think twice about these days but would have caused an uproar in scandal back then. She created a world in which girls still scheme against each other, but they did it in fashion - no joke, I really do like the 1920s which acts as the sole reason for my interest in the novel. I surely can't wait until Ingenue hits bookshelves in August of this year.

Well, I'm off to start Doc by Mary Doria Russell, so until next time...keep on huntin'.

No comments:

Post a Comment