The Lucky Ones by Anna Godbersen
The Lucky Ones is the last of the Bright Young Things novels, a soapy trilogy about high-society, bootlegger, movie star girls in 1929 New York. Adventure, danger, romance, intrigue, period dresses: what more do you want in a YA novel? This installment seems somewhat more adult than the earlier ones, bringing adultery into the picture. Astrid’s relationship with her husband Charlie is on the rocks thanks to Charlie’s violence and an amorous bodyguard. Cordelia brokers peace between rival bootlegging gangs and sneaks around with her pilot boyfriend. And Letty gets caught up in a Hollywood couple’s complicated marriage. There are wild nights in Manhattan hotels, a Long Island party that ends in blood and prison, and a contest between two bragging pilots. The action doesn’t stop as it switches between the three protagonists, each caught up in her own drama.
In my review of Beautiful Days, the second of the trilogy, I marvelled at how Godbersen had arranged things to maximize the number of possible outcomes going into the final volume. Somehow, the ending was still something I didn’t predict, for each of the three girls: a satisfying surprise. Godbersen went for tragedy again. Her conclusion’s sense of loss and disillusionment seems perfect for the end of the 20’s. It was a pleasure to read, a page-turner with strong sentences and characters that managed to interest me despite their occasional shallowness. I’ll be looking out for Godbersen’s next book.