Genre: YA/Historical Fiction/Romance.
Publication Date: September 20, 2011.
My Rating: 5/5 stars.
After a month in New York, Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur are small-town girls no longer. They spend their afternoons with Astrid Donal at the Greys’ lush Long Island estate and their nights in Manhattan’s bustling metropolis. But Letty’s not content to be a mere socialite. She is ready at last to chase her Broadway dreams—no matter the cost.
Cordelia is still reeling from the death of her father at the hands of Thom Hale, the man she thought she loved. Now she is set to honor Darius Grey’s legacy . . . and take her revenge.
Promised to Cordelia’s half-brother, Astrid is caught up in a world of dazzling jewels and glittering nights—and the sparkle is blinding. Charlie Grey is a gangster playing a dangerous game; and for Astrid, Cordelia, and Letty, the stakes could be deadly.
Beautiful Days, the sequel to Bright Young Things, by Anna Godbersen takes place in the summer of 1929. Around this time alcohol was prohibited, gangsters provided illegal liquor to speakeasies, places where people could purchase illegal alcohol, and women were becoming flappers, a type of women who wore short skirts, bobbed hair, and acted in a way that was unacceptable back then.
Cordelia and Letty left their small Ohio town known as the Union for the glittering city of New York. Weeks after their arrival, the girls have left their past behind and are ready for their future. They live in the Dogwood mansion, which belonged to Cordelia’s father, a well-known boottlegger (someone who provided illegal liquor to speakeasies.) who was killed by Thom Hale, a man Cordelia had believed to be charming and kind, along with Astrid Donal, the young flapper who is engaged to Cordelia’s half-brother, Charlie.
Cordelia goes from loving Thom Hale to loathing him in a snap. After she discovered that he had killed her father, Cordelia realized that he had only approached her so that he and his father’s men can enter Cordelia’s father’s house. Now all Cordelia want is revenge, and when Charlie tells her the perfect way to get even with the Hales (by opening a new speakeasy, making sure they go out of the bootlegging business.) it does not take her long to say yes. Being the long-lost daughter of the late bootlegger, Cordelia is quite a celebrity, she knows that, and she also knows that people are dying to get a look at her, therefore the success of the speakeasy is almost guaranteed. As the opening night of the speakeasy grows closer, Cordelia becomes a bit distracted as her romance with famous pilot Max Darby. The two become close, taking rides in his plane and going out for dinner, but Cordelia feels like maybe he isn’t interested in her. She is proved wrong, though, when he takes her to meet his mother, a black woman, and she realizes that if anyone ever finds out who his mother is, his carrier could be ruined.
Letty lakspur was fired from her old job as a ciggarette girl, kicked out of her apartment, and her heart broke when she saw that the man she had fallen for, Grady Lodge, an aspiring writer, was with another woman, but she still faces the world with a dazzling smile. She’s been hurt, yes, but she knows that her dreams to become a famous singer and actress will become true. At a party, Letty discovers that the girl she saw Grady with was only his siter, which makes her relieved, and when Cordelia’s brother hears her sing and offers her a job as the opening act for his speakeasy, Letty becomes gleeful and believes her life is becoming better. Her world is crashes down, however, when Cordelia and Charlie tell her she can’t sing at their club because she isn’t popular yet, and what they need for their opening act is popularity. Then it turns out that Grady isn’t a poor man working hard to get what he wants, but a spoiled rich boy who is rebelling against his parents. As Letty’s dreams are shattered and her relationship with Grady ends, she becomes sad once again. Astrid Donal, who has become a good friend of Letty, tells her that it is better if she becomes better by her own work, not by the help of a friend. Astrid also tells Letty that she really does believe she’s a star. With those words of encouragement fresh in her mind, Letty goes to audition to be a choir girl, a job she gets. Letty is excited to start her new job! On the opening night of Cordelia and Charlie’s speakeasy, Letty finds out that Mona, the woman who was supposed to perfomr that night, is too drunk to even stand up, so she takes her place and sings for her. After her performance, Letty is approached by a famous actor who offers to mentor her, an offer Letty accepts.
Astrid is engaged to Charlie and she loves him, but ever since his plans of revenge toward the Hales started, he has been home less and less. After countless arguments, Astrid and Charlie break their engament. On the night that Charlie’s speakeasy opens, Astrid is kidnapped by a few of the Hales’ men. Charlie finds out of this and saves her. The two realize they can’t be apart, so they marry the following day.
I felt like there wasn’t as much excitement as there is in Godbersen’s previous novels, but the beauty of the 20’s and the way she describes it makes up for that. The book is also shorter than her other novels, but I was surprised to see that the story wasn’t rushed even a bit. It developed very smoothly, just like her other ones.
On the previous book, Bright Young Things, Anna Godbersen doesn’t really talk much about speakeasies, the prohibiton, or flappers, and I was slightly disappointed. In Beautiful Days, though, she does and does it so perfectly that I felt as if I was living inside that world, going out to parties with Astrid, preparing the speakeasy with Cordelia, and dreaming along with Letty.
All the characters were well-developed and likeable, but I found myself becoming more attached to Letty than any of the others, because Letty is more innocent and humble than the others. She dreams big, and although she is a bit self-councious, she knows she can make them come true. I love the way Letty speaks, she speaks in a charming and elegant way like the other girls, yet there is a childish and silly hint to it. I loved Letty so much that if she was somehow hurt, emotionally or physically, I felt it too. I hope that in the future Letty remains this way.
I loved the way the charcters spoke. I loved it some times that I found myself answering people with a “yes, darling” or using expressions such as “that’s the bee’s knees”, “that’s the cat’s meow”, or, my favorite one, “that’s jake.” The language of that time was incredible, and I wish people would like that in the present, but we’ve become way too lazy and now use words such as “’cause” or “hella”, which aren’t actually words. Each time I read an Anna Godbersen book, whether it takes place in the 1890s or the 1920s, I fall in love with the dialogue, just as I did with the dialogue of Beautiful Days.
Godbersen has written yet another great novel. Her writing is charming, beautiful, and elegant. I found myself submerged into the world of the 20’s as I read this book. The way she writes is elegant and similar to the way people wrote back then, yet it is easy to comprehend. Godbersen managed to pack a huge story into a mere 358 pages. I was a fan to Anna Godbersen’s books before this and after reading this book my liking for her work increased.
If you like books with romance, friendship, rivalry, and not much action, then I would recommend you to read Beautiful Days!