Book Title and Author: The It Girls by Karen Harper
Publication Date and Publisher: October 24, 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: October 4, 2017 (ARC-Edelweiss)
From New York Times bestselling author Karen Harper comes a novel based on the lives of two amazing sisters . . .
One sailed the Titanic and started a fashion empire . . .
The other overtook Hollywood and scandalized the world . . .
Together, they were unstoppable.
They rose from genteel poverty, two beautiful sisters, ambitious, witty, seductive. Elinor and Lucy Sutherland are at once each other’s fiercest supporters and most vicious critics.
Lucy transformed herself into Lucile, the daring fashion designer who revolutionized the industry with her flirtatious gowns and brazen self-promotion. And when she married Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon her life seemed to be a fairy tale. But success came at many costs—to her marriage and to her children . . . and then came the fateful night of April 14, 1912 and the scandal that followed.
Elinor’s novels titillate readers, and it’s even asked in polite drawing rooms if you would like to “sin with Elinor Glyn?” Her work pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable; her foray into the glittering new world of Hollywood turns her into a world-wide phenomenon. But although she writes of passion, the true love she longs for eludes her.
But despite quarrels and misunderstandings, distance and destiny, there is no bond stronger than that of the two sisters—confidants, friends, rivals and the two “It Girls” of their day.
Karen Harper is one of my all-time favorite historical fiction writers, and she has done another fantastic job bringing to life sisters Elinor Glyn and Lucile Duff-Gordon in her newest novel, The It Girls.
This is an engrossing novel that begins in the late nineteenth-century when Nellie and Lucy Sutherland are just young, imaginative girls with dreams of money, love, success, and adventure, and the account of their lives continues several decades into the early twentieth century and includes momentous events in history such as the sinking of the Titanic, which Lucy survived and the events of World War I.
Harper has woven a plot rich in the complexities faced by women of this era to be independent (both financially and personally), break gender norms, and have lives not ruled by men. Lucile and Elinor were truly women well ahead of their time, and it was captivating to read the two sister’s story as they took on the world even as they faced failed (and abusive) marriages, scorn, ridicule, acclaim, worship, and unparalleled success for their times!
The bond of sisters is at the very heart of The It Girls, and Harper captures it beautifully as she brings to life the stunning characters of Lucile, who from childhood dreamed of designing glorious dresses, and of Elinor, who from childhood dreamed of being a writer. Their support, jealousy, criticism, undying loyalty, and love for each other is unshakeable and carries them through life as they are faced with both successes and failures.
There were some moments in the novel where the plot dragged a bit as Harper gave a bit too many historical details that just weren’t needed at times, or at least that is my humble opinion. Also, I would have enjoyed more in-depth characterizations, but all in all, this is a wonderful read, as usual, by Harper who I always immensely enjoy her historical fictional accounts! I truly loved the glamorous, wealthy, glitzy settings and lifestyles that are portrayed, and I really enjoyed reading about many other famous events like the Titanic and WWI and famous people, even in passing, such as English royalty and Hollywood royalty.
I recommend The It Girls to anyone who loves historical fiction or reading about strong, intelligent women who break tradition and find their own place in both the world and in society.
***Thank you, Edelweiss, William Morrow Paperback, and Karen Harper for an ARC copy of The It Girls in exchange for my honest and fair review.***