Guest Review by Georgina Tranter
Pages – 386
Published by Corgi in paperback in March 2012
They found the entrance exactly as instructed: just before the cracked sign for Malawer’s Funeral Parlor, between the tailor and the barbershop, through the rusted gate, eleven creaky steps below street level. After they’d knocked precisely three times, a tiny slit in the boarded-up door slid open.
‘What’s the word, doll?’ One dark eye blinked at them.
Three girls. One city. Who will 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 from her future life as Mrs Sebastian Grey.
But surely there’s time for a little 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 loved this book! Vixen is the first of a trilogy by Jillian Larkin, set in American in the 1920s. Three very different characters make up Vixen: debutante Gloria, who has everything, the money, the lifestyle and the fiancé; her best friend Lorraine who is determined to cause a stir wherever she goes, and Clara, the country relative bought to Chicago to organise her cousin’s forthcoming wedding. But as with most things, appearances can be deceptive!
From the outset, I was hooked by this book. The settings were so detailed, the illegal speakeasys where the girls slip off to for illicit drinking and partying in true Flapper style. (Prohibition means alchohol is illegal in Chicago but knowing where to find it is half the fun)! Jillian Larkin clearly loves this period and it was well researched. The descriptions of the outfits that the girls wear were wonderful – I wanted to bob my hair and buy a sequin dress just reading about it.
Each girl is very different in character and initially I had doubts as to whether they seemed to act their age (18-20) but as the book progressed I did believe them. I think the male characters in the book (the rich fiancé Sebastian, the best friend Marcus and the piano player Jerome) came across as a lot older but again I think that in the era this book is set, they would have acted more this way than boys of today. The balance of the three female characters with three male characters also worked really well.
The book is divided into chapters with each of the individual girls’ names at the start so it focuses on each of them in turn which I liked. Gloria is the spoilt little rich girl who is about to get married to the very handsome but cold Sebastian. However she longs for a little excitement in her life and it only takes her best friends Lorraine and Marcus to encourage her before her life takes her on a path that will change her forever.
Best friend Lorraine loves to shock and comes across in the book as a very shallow figure. I felt sorry for her as she really was all about appearance but no substance. She wants to be everything Gloria is, but she isn’t.
Clara is the country cousin who is sent to live with Gloria and her mother. From the start you know that there is more to her that meets the eye but what is the secret that she is keeping from everyone and will they all find out?
This is an easy read that I flew through. With the chapter breakdowns it keeps you wanting to read more so you can find out what is happening to each character. I can’t wait to read the next two instalments to find out what happens next. With it’s dramatic red and black cover, Vixen and Jillian Larkin are definitely names to look out for.