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Vixen: A Review

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Gloria Carmody thought she had everything she could want: the big diamond, the handsome fiance, the promise of a secure, respectable life among Chicago’s high society. But as her wedding looms ever nearer all Gloria can think of is a notorious speakeasy and the piano player who intrigues her more than her fiance ever has. Or will.

Lorraine Dyer doesn’t understand the sudden change in her best friend, but if Gloria wants to release her inner flapper, why not? After all Lorraine is known for innovating the flapper style among their circle of friends. She’s also known for some less flattering attributes like being brash. And perhaps being a bit indiscreet with her flask. But isn’t that what the Roaring Twenties are all about? Maybe Gloria’s dive into the world of flappers and speakeasies will mean Lorraine can finally shine on her own.

Gloria’s cousin, Clara Knowles, knows more than her share about being a flapper. A lot more. But with the threat of reform school and her reputation in tatters, Clara is sent to Chicago to help plan Gloria’s wedding. It isn’t glamorous or particularly fun. But maybe starting over in a new city is just what she needs to leave her sordid past far behind for once and for all.

It’s 1923. Prohibition has driven drinking underground, women are cutting their hair and raising their hemlines, life is a party and everyone is ready to have some fun. For three young women in Chicago the world is full of possibilities if they’re ready to take a chance in Vixen (2010) by Jillian Larkin.

Vixen is the first book in Larkin’s series The Flappers.

Published in December 2010, it will inevitably be compared to Anna Godbersen’s widely anticipated Bright Young Things released in October 2010. Don’t let the similarities fool you, Vixen stands on its own two feet.

The story is told in chapters alternating viewpoints between Gloria, Lorraine and  Clara. The narratives shift and twist with each character’s experiences but ultimately come together to create a poignant, exciting story. The combined perspectives add depth to the story, especially for Lorraine and Clara who spend most of the story tragically misunderstood by a lot of the other characters, not to mention by each other.

Here is an effervescent story that captures essence of the 1920s in book form. Larkin blends fashion, historical detail and vivid writing to create an original story that evokes not only the exuberance of life in the 1920s but also the confusion felt by women, particularly her three heroines, as they struggle with what it means to be a free-spirited flapper after growing up in the straight-laced world of the 1910s.

Vixen is strikingly authentic with fun slang, engaging characters and an exciting story that will leave readers guessing until the sensational conclusion. This book also has a stunning cover by Zhang Jingna.

Gloria, Lorraine and Clara’s story continues in Ingenue (due out this summer).

Possible Pairings: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell, Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher, Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen, The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, The Sheik by Edith Hull, Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, Heroes and Thieves by Vanessa Carlton (CD)

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