Book Review: The It Girls
By: Karen Harper
Published By: William Morrow
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Adult - Historical Fiction
The Titanic has always been one of my historical interests. As a kid, I devoured every book and documentary on the tragedy. My heart ached for those who lost loved ones and I wanted to know more about the survivors. As an adult, my desire to learn more about the event hasn't waned. I had heard of Lucille (aka Lucy) Duff-Gordon because of her connection to the Titanic, but I didn't know about her sister, Elinor (aka Nellie) Glyn, the famous writer. This pair of sisters were the sort to fight against the gender norms of their time and seek to establish themselves as strong female presences in the world of fashion and entertainment. They did not become wives and mothers who faded into the obscurity of domestic life.
The novel chronicles the pair when they are teens living on the island of Jersey and longing to escape to the more cosmopolitan cities like Paris and London. The sisters desperately hope to marry well to avoid being stuck in a small town like their mother. They want a passionate love with a soulmate like the love that existed between their mother and father prior to their father's death. Both of the girls must learn to navigate the social norms of their time and station in their quest to find a love match and the freedom to express their creativity with silk and sentences.
The later sections of the novel focus on the sisters as they age and their careers evolve. To my delight, there was information about Lucy's trip on the Titanic. I had no idea she almost became a victim on the Lusitania as well, but cancelled at the last minute; she truly seemed to have had nine lives. I also enjoyed learning about Nellie's career and her "scandalous" stories. Both of these women were spitfires that led fascinating lives. I found myself wanting to be friends with both Lucy and Nellie.
The best part of this novel for me, history aside, was the bond between these sisters. Throughout all the ups and downs, they remained loyal and steadfast. It was also nice to see a little feminism and girl power in a time when women were heavily restricted in society.
One Last Gripe: I was put off by the vanity of the women from time to time. It seemed to make them forget where they came from as they aged.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Learning more about female history
First Sentence: "If we are caught, we'll be in beastly trouble for this," Nellie said, tugging at her sister's sleeve as they opened the door to the ladies' cloakroom of Government House and darted inside.
Favorite Character: Lucy
Least Favorite Character: Lucy's first husband
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.