Vixen by Jillian Larkin
Rating: PG-13; 4 stars
Summary: Gloria Carmody is getting ready for her wedding—a wedding to rich boy Sebastian Grey. But before she ties the knot and has to worry about keeping house, Gloria would like to have some fun. And fun in the 1920s is generally spelled speakeasy. Unfortunately, Gloria has Country Cousin Clara to contend with. Clara is uptight and a bit boorish, and she's also hiding secrets of her own. Country Clara hasn't lived in the country for quite some time. In fact, she was sent to her aunt's house in Chicago because she ran into trouble living as a flapper in New York City! Gloria doesn't know this, of course. Nor does Gloria's best friend Lorraine, a rich-girl wannabe flapper. All three girls have their own motives and ambitions that will drive them further from where their parents want them, and further into trouble.
Opinions: It seems that last year was the year of weird niches—between a plethora of books on Cleopatra, plus two YA novels on flappers, both of which seem to be part of two different series...yeah. Weird niches. So anyway, this is the second of those flapper books that I've read. I also reviewed the other one, Bright Young Things. The two books are vastly different. Now, the first chunk of this book I only got in audiobook form. I meant to reread it from the beginning, but when I started it just seemed too redundant, so I ended up picking up where I left off with the audiobook.
Vixen is told from shifting perspectives. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character—either protagonist Gloria, her best friend Lorraine, or her cousin Clara. This works really well. It allows for full development of all the three main characters and their pasts. Because the book is written in third person, the shifts aren't distracting or confusing.
This book sparkles. I know that sounds weird, but stay with me. This book is filled with so much glitz and glam (after all, the protagonist is, as Lorraine would say, très rich) that it just sparkles. While reading, I was immediately put in mind of a dim room filled with sparkly dresses, in other words—a speakeasy.
Going back to the comparison to Bright Young Things, Larkin definitely doesn't utilize the same sentence-level prose-prowess that Godbersen does. However, in place of swoon-worthy sentences, Vixen is compulsively readable. The period details are striking and draw you in without being overpowering and alienating. Period appropriate slang is utilized often, and well.
Vixen contains innumerable twists and turns, and I'm interested to see how they're all wrapped up (or not) in the sequel. I didn't guess anything at all, which as I may have said before, is rare for me. The quantity of books I've read in my life leads me to spot patterns and the like. So the fact that I was unable to figure anything out before it was revealed is a testament to the strength of the book.
I gave this book 4 stars because although I enjoyed it for the most part, there were still moments when I didn't want to continue. Now, most of these weren't because of boredom. Rather, I don't like reading about people getting in trouble at school, particularly if that's out of character for the people involved. It's one of those weird things about me. And there were a couple of moments...Now, my guess is that this won't bother most people, but it bothered me. It was also just missing that special spark that gives books 5 stars. I rated it PG-13 for violence and some sexual content, though none of it is explicit. I don't recall any swearing, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any.
In general this is an excellent light read, a beach read. Like Bright Young Things, there isn't very much substance to it (although to be fair, Vixen is heavier than Bright Young Things). However, books don't need to reveal the Great Truth of the Human Condition to be good books. Sometimes, they don't even have to be written well to be enjoyed (ahem, Certain Book About Vampires). Vixen isn't the Most Beautiful Piece of Prose I've seen, but nor is it filled with errors and things that make you cringe. It's written to be readable, not beautiful. This is a light, enjoyable read that is rife with period details that should come in handy if you ever find yourself transported back to Chicago in the 1920s.