With another new year—-and decade-—upon us, I thought it would be a good time to look at a new book that takes place close to a century ago, during the Roaring '20s. (Can you believe it? Another decade and we'll have our own version of the 20s!) Debut author Jillian Larkin has released the first in her Flappers trilogy, Vixen. Told in three alternating points of view, the novel is pure historical fiction: we learn not only about flappers, as the series title suggests, but get a peek at what life during the Roaring '20s was like, from prohibition, speakeasies, and gangsters to fashionable clothing, hairstyles, and slang. There's a little bit of something for everyone, and Larkin paints a picture that makes it easy to picture the vibrant decade in the mind's eye. The book releases at a good time, too: HBO recently released aired the debut season of its latest TV hit, Boardwalk Empire, and fellow teen author Anna Godbersen (author of the popular historical series The Luxe) recently released a new book set in the same time period, Bright Young Things. There's also talk of a movie version of the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, which closed on Broadway about three years ago.
While I'm not normally a fan of novels with chapters that alternate POV, Larkin handles the shift well and such a break-up of the novel is necessary. The three main characters in the novel lead very different lives, and through each of them, we're able to flesh out different aspects of the decade. In fact, Clara steals the show despite the fact that her cousin Gloria is the "main character" of the novel. I found myself most eagerly looking forward to Clara's plotline as she tried to make a new, "regular" life for herself after previously being a flapper in one of the most notorious speakeasies. It is through Gloria and her friend, the scheming, back-biting Lorraine, that we experience teenagers going through rebellion as they try to grow up too fast and live glamorously--while, of course, hiding what they're doing from their parents and, in Gloria's case, fiancé. The novel ends with everything in flux, making it easy for readers to start looking forward to the release of 2011's Ingenue, coming out in August.
The Teen Section needs more historical fiction. So much of what's out there is war-based (and a lot of that revolves around the Holocaust). There is so much more that has happened and decades chock-full of stories waiting to be told. It's nice to see a niche forming for a decade that isn't heavily studied in school but still full of intrigue. I hope this trend continues and that period pieces are finally beginning to make their way back into fashion.
[Review based on ARC edition]