Set in 1930s England, A Bright Young Thing follows socialite Astra Davies as she navigates her way through the fallout of her parents’ deaths— and the resulting financial ruin she finds herself in. With a nemesis, societal pressures, freshly unburied family secrets, and quickly dwindling funds, Astra faces many problems but not a lot of time to fix them.
Author Brianne Moore skillfully imbued the story with dialogue and details that speak to the historical context surrounding the characters. She also did a fantastic job illustrating the various characters’ personalities, quirks, and motives, resulting in a richly defined cast and dynamic interactions. The outcome is an energetic historical fiction read with character complexity and just the right amount of nuance to keep the story interesting but not overwhelming.
Heavy in exposition, I found the first half to amble, featuring primarily background rather than movement. Any real action doesn’t occur until halfway into the book. Astra does a great deal of merely reacting through many chapters, and it’s not until the second half that she moves from being frustratingly passive to an active participant in her destiny. But this shift aligns with Astra’s character development. As she uncovers secrets and encounters hardships, she grows and adapts, and the transformation is satisfying to behold.
And there’s romance! Astra’s budding relationship with a dashing earl initially features as a plot device, though the resulting sub-plot does satisfy. And while the romantic element of Astra’s story didn’t quite take center stage in this story, its progression was definitely necessary for understanding and appreciating our heroine’s character development.
While some of the scenarios presented were maddening (come on, Astra, just be honest about your feelings already!), A Bright Young Thing ultimately had a very satisfying ending. Brianne tied up all the loose ends, deftly elucidating the characters’ motivations, and the story feels complete.
I received an advanced reader copy for the purpose of delivering my honest review. A Bright Young Thing currently has a release date of September 7, 2021. Pre-order it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookseller!