Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book Review: The It Girls

Author: Karen Harper
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow

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.

Yes, after being abandoned by one man and losing another to death, she would be married only to her passion for design from now on.

And, for one mad, shattering moment, there was no one or no thing in the world besides this man she loved.

Elinor had cheekily claimed she felt she had “It” when she lying nearly naked on her most recent tiger skin. Today, Lucile felt she had “It,” too.

Beginning in 1875 and spanning several decades, The It Girls by Karen Harper is a fictionalized novel about real life sisters, Lucy (Lucile) & Elinor (Nellie) Sutherland. This is an intriguing novel that begins in 1875 and continues several decades into the early twentieth century, covering the Great War (WWI) and a few years beyond. The theme of this novel is very much about the idea and bond of sisterhood. Karen Harper has woven together an intricate story about these two sisters who lived lives that were very out of the ordinary for the time period. They were supporting themselves financially, were unmarried, and were breaking other gender norms. They were truly ahead of their time.

The sisters suffer through a tragedy together; Harper takes readers on an interesting journey as their lives progress after the sinking of the Titanic. The sisters are complicated, complex, and very competitive; wealth and success are very important to both of them and it often gets in between them and causing family problems. Because the sisters are so self-centered and ambitious, the drama is high and it makes for an intense reading experience. Harper paints an accurate picture of the historical times, which further adds to the extremity of the sisters and their need to defy all odds set against them. I loved the glamorous, glitzy settings and lifestyles that are portrayed, and I recommend The It Girls to anyone who loves historical fiction or reading about strong, intellectual women who break tradition and find their own place in society.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at William Morrow in exchange for my honest review***

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