The Flappers: Vixen – Jillian Larkin
Pages: 386 (ARC)
Publisher: Corgi (RHCB)
Release Date: 1st March 2012
Three girls. One city. Who’ll be the last Flapper standing?
Chicago, 1924. Born into American high society, Gloria is the girl who has it all. Living the debutante dream along with her best friend Lorraine, Gloria is just a trip down the aisle away from her future life as Mrs Sebastian Grey.
But surely there’s a little time for partying before she settles down?
With an illegal speakeasy on every corner and mobsters rubbing shoulders with the city’s most sensational flappers, Chicago’s jazz-fuelled underworld is certainly not the kind of place for a society princess like Gloria.
And she’s never had so much fun.
I have a soft spot for fun, fast-paced, scandalous historical YA novels and Jillian Larkin’s debut met my criteria perfectly.
The era of 1920s America captivates me. The glamour, the rebellion, the danger, the scandals and, of course, the Flappers. The leftover Victorian sensibilities clashing with the new-found freedom of societies debutantes causes a delicious atmosphere that I love to be enveloped in. Jillian Larkin created a vibrant, pulsing atmosphere in the speakeasies that was made effortlessly authentic with her casual use of 20s slang that I admittedly did have to look up occasionally. As much as these bits made me want to live like Gloria, there were elements to the time that didn’t really occur to me until Vixen really got going.
Prejudice against black people was still rife in the 20s and even contact between a black man and a white woman was forbidden, let alone a relationship. It shocked me how they were treated by society because it would be so unforgivable now. This wasn’t the only thing about the time that put me on edge. Obviously, part of the allure of historical novels is the triumphing of love over money, status and family, but I’m still always horrified at some of the relationships women are in through duty. And then you have how women are still treated like possessions: it made my usually calm and satisfied inner feminist rear up in anger. One character who I won’t disclose, made her growl particularly fiercely. For that, I am very glad I don’t live in a world where this is still rife (generally speaking).
Written is split narration between Clara, Lorraine and Gloria, Vixen shows us three different examples of life as a socialite: the reformed Flapper, the wannabe/newbie Flapper and the desperate Flapper. When I first began reading Vixen, I fully expected Gloria to be my favourite character. She was branching out and breaking rules, finding her freedom, but she actually irritated me for the first half of the novel. Lorraine, well, if you’ve read Vixen you’re very likely to know what I mean without me having to say anything and that leaves Clara. I didn’t imagine I would like her very much at all, but she was by far my favourite. She has an intriguing past and a spark that jumps off the page. I was constantly wondering what she left behind in New York and what had happened that would cause mysterious, threatening notes to follow her to Chicago.
I loved Vixen and I can’t wait to read the next book, Ingenue, and catch up with the scandalous antics of Gloria, Lorraine and Clara.
Thank you to RHCB for sending me a copy for review.