Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things Series


The Bright Young Things Saga by Anna Godbersen | Harris County Public Library Online Catalog

The Bright Young Things Saga by Anna Godbersen | Harris County Public Library Online Catalog

Title and Author(s): Bright Young Things; Beautiful Days; and The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen
Release Date: October 12, 2010; September 20, 2011; November 27, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 006196266X; 0061962686; 0061962708
Pages: 400; 368; 384
Source: Library

Reasons for Reading:  When I finished The Luxe Series, I wanted to read more Anna Godbersen. Upon hearing of a new saga set in the 1920s, I quickly requested the first book – Bright Young Things from the library.

Summary: Beginning with a prologue voiced in the first person, this narrator recalls the last summer of the Roaring Twenties. The narrator mentions three young ladies – one who became famous, one who got married, and one who died. Then, the saga leads the reader to two best friends. Orphaned Cordelia Grey leaves a boy at the alter with her best friend, Letty Larkspur (Letitia Haubstadt), and escaped their boring life in small town Ohio for the glitter of New York in the summer of 1929. Cordelia wants to reunite with her bootlegger father, Darius Grey, while Letty wants to see her name in lights. When they arrive in New York, Cordelia serendipitously meets her father, her brother – Charlie Grey, and Charlie’s sweetheart – Astrid Donal.  These three teen beauties strive to make their marks in New York is one dazzling summer.

One Thing I Learned from reading Anna Godbersen’s Bright Young Things Series

What I Liked : I like the styles from the 1920s – the fashion, the architecture, the art, the music, etc. Also, unlike the main characters of Godbersen’s The Luxe series, these girls appeared kind and caring – no frenemy in the bunch. Lastly, these girls definitely possessed the maturity of teenagers.

What I Disliked: While Godbersen started telling an interesting story, I found myself bored and tempted to scan pages early on in my reading of the third book, The Lucky Ones. Astrid, in particular, didn’t appeal to me. I found her absolutely insipid and I nearly skipped the Astrid-centric chapters. On the other hand, her stepsister Billie didn’t have enough scenes in the saga.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: “Yes, Sir! That’s My Baby!” (Lee Morse, 1925)

Setting: Ohio, New York City, Long Island New York

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Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises


Audiobook read by William Hurt

*1001 Books Book

Hemingway, E., & William, H. (1926). Ernest Hemingway’s The sun also rises. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.  9780743564410

I attempted reading this particular Hemingway novel several years ago but wasn’t in the mood. So, I added this to my “To Be Read/TBR” list and read other books. In my perpetual quest for shorter audiobooks, I stumbled upon The Sun Also Rises in the HCPL catalog. When I noticed that the narrator was William Hurt, I decided to give The Sun Also Rises another try.

Narrator Jake Barnes  is an American journalist expatriate in Paris as well as a World War I veteran.  Injuries from WWI have rendered Jake impotent. He drinks a lot and is a bullfighting aficionado.

Jake begins the novel by describing his “friend” Robert Cohn. Cohn is a rich Jewish American expatriate who, like Jake, is a writer. Cohn didn’t fight in The Great War. Facing much anti-Semitism at Princeton, Cohn has grown a chip on his shoulder; he fits right in with his contemporaries of Rive Gauche and the Lost Generation. Cohn lives with his social-climbing girlfriend Frances Clyne.

Listlessly, Cohn seeks escape and stops by Jake’s office to get him to go to South America with him. Jake turns him down and avoids Cohn as much as possible. That evening, Jake drifts through bars and clubs and eventually runs into the love of his life. The beautiful, magnetic Lady Brett Ashley is a twice-divorced Englishwoman whom Jake met during the War. Brett loves Jake but will not commit to Jake due to his impotence. Brett does not commit to any man.  Cohn sees Brett, falls for her, and an affair ensues.

All of this proves calamitous when Jake treks to Pamplona to see the bullfights. Jake’s an aficionado whereas his friends want to party. He’s joined by fellow expatriate and war veteran Bill Gorton, Brett, Cohn, and Mike Campbell, Brett’s fiancé. When the handsome bullfighter Romero enters the scene, Brett wants him. At this point, Brett has three men competing for her attention.

The writing and tragedy are exquisite. Jake’s star-crossed love is poignant; the disconnect of this group is stiffling. Jake finds himself in a bind – should he extend Brett in the form of Romero or should he remain true to the code of Spaniard bullfighting aficionados?

Four Out of Five Pearls

Places: France, Spain, The United States, The United Kingdom, Italy

Literary Ties: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, Ecclesiastes 1:5,

For more on Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, check out the following:

Glibness of The Great Gatsby


 

* 1001 Books Book

 

Fitzgerald, F. S., & Muller, F. (1984). The great Gatsby. Clinton, MD: Recorded Books.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald has long been a staple of the high school American Literature courses. When I took English III (Junior year), we only read the first chapter or so of The Great Gatsby and watched the Robert Redford/ Mia Farrow flick. In college, we talked about Fitzgerald’s influence in American Lit. Due to all of this, I decided maybe I should read the quintessential Jazz Age novel. I checked the audiobook narrated by Frank Muller.

In the early 1920s, narrator Nick Carraway leaves the familiar Midwest and Yale for the Big Apple. Nick moves into an humble cottage in the West Egg, a fictitious area in Long Island Sound. Nick’s pretty but shallow cousin, Daisy Buchanan. Daisy lives with her athletic husband, Tom, in the opulance of their East Egg mansion. In time, Nick pays the Buchanans a visit where he meets Daisy’s friend, female golf player Jordan Baker. Jordan shares with Nick that Tom is cheating on Daisy with Myrtle, the wife of the dimwitted cuckold, George. Soon, Nick finds himself swept up in the decadent lifestyle of his cousin.

 

Oddly enough, Nick happens to be the neighbor of extremely wealthy Jay Gatsby. The enigmatic Gatsby throws extravagant parties every Saturday. While he has these events, nobody knows much about him. Nick receives an invitation from Gatsby. As it would happen, Gatsby has carried the torch for Daisy and needs Nick’s help. The lives of the whole cast to a head in a high way.

 

Unfortunately, The Great Gatsby disappointed me. Audiobook narrator Frank Muller voices drones endlessly. I found the characters in this book rather unsympathetic. Of course, Fitzgerald illustrates greatly the obsessive self-centeredness of his characters well. I do trust The Great Gatsby is an excellent record of the life and times of the Jazz Age. While jazz music and the 1920s have long fascinated me, I found I would not have liked being associated with these characters. On the whole, they were a rather unsympathetic lot.

I do think The Great Gatsby has a timeless plot. In fact, I would like to see someone adapt it for another age. Maybe this is the aim of the Gossip Girl television show. Nonetheless, the lack of character identification (at least on my part) left me dissatisfied. Ultimately, I would say the characters were perhaps too much of the gold-plated variety and not the genuine article.

Two out of Five Pearls