The Flappers: Ingenue by Jillian Larkin

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The Flappers: Ingenue by Jillian Larkin

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Larkin follows up the excellent Vixen with an even better second book in this trilogy. Outstanding, and the series is a huge recommendation so far.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: July 2012
Publisher: Corgi Children's
ISBN: 978-0552565059

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Warning: This review contains spoilers for The Flapper: Vixen.

Gloria Carmody and Jerome Johnson fled Chicago for New York to escape the mob and the police after Gloria killed a man. They thought that their love would be enough to get them through – but a white woman and a black man living together will need a lot more than that to get a happy ending. After witnessing another murder, Jerome's sister Vera knows that New York is about to get even more dangerous for the pair, but can she find them to warn them in time? Meanwhile Lorraine Dyer, formerly Gloria's best friend, is also trying to find them – but in her case she wants revenge on Gloria. As for Clara Knowles, former 'Queen Sheba of the flapper scene', she may be back in New York but she's not going back to the speakeasies and parties. She's happy with quiet, respectable Marcus Eastman. Until she gets an intriguing offer...

I was worried that the main characters all moving from Chicago to New York would feel forced and that Larkin might not be able to capture the atmosphere of the Big Apple as well as she did her previous location. Happily, the worries were misplaced – Larkin is absolutely wonderful at drawing the reader in and I could almost taste the illicit booze as I was reading this one. I mentioned when reviewing book one that if there was a tiny fault it was perhaps the length of time taken scene-setitng – this one is much faster moving, with a murder in the very first chapter. As previously, Larkin's writing style is gorgeous and draws you in to the action as well as the setting.

As well as the excellent descriptions of the time and place, Larkin is also great at creating strong characters. All four narrators here have distinctive voices and are easy to care about, while the various love interests, especially Jerome's friend Evan who helps Vera search for him, are attractive but realistically portrayed. I was especially impressed by the changing relationship between Gloria and Jerome, now past the first stages of love and having to work at being a couple despite the problems of racism and the danger they're in. It's also enjoyable to see real people from the time period, including Louis Armstrong and Al Capone, either appear or get a mention.

I'm absolutely desperate for the next in this wonderful series, which the epilogue sets up beautifully – but I'm also appreciative that there's more of a sense of resolution to this one than there was to Vixen. Larkin's ending managed to both give me a satisfying conclusion to this part of the trilogy while also leaving me eagerly waiting to see what happens next – the best of both worlds!

Really strong recommendation, fans of YA historical novels shouldn't miss this superb series.

My favourite ever novel set in the Jazz Age is still The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, but there are some wonderful teen books set in the era hitting bookshops around now. Two of my favourites, apart from this one, are Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen which is also set in New York, and Debutantes by Cora Harrison which takes place in England and is rather more gentle, but still excellent.

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This review was kindly given to us by the ever-generous Ya Yeah Yeah.


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