Friday 9 July 2021

Reputation by Lex Croucher

Abandoned by her parents, middle-class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who lives a life Georgiana couldn't have imagined in her wildest dreams.

Lonely and vulnerable, Georgiana falls in with Frances and her unfathomably rich, deeply improper friends. Georgiana is introduced to a new world: drunken debauchery, mysterious young men with strangely arresting hands, and the upper echelons of Regency society.

But the price of entry to high society might just be higher than Georgiana is willing to pay...

Marketed as Gossip Girl meets Jane Austen, Lex Croucher’s debut novel certainly is that and more! Highly entertaining, it tells of Georgiana, who has recently moved in with her aunt and uncle, and she is bored. Until Frances appears, like dramatic whirlwind, and pulls Georgiana into her fun-filled frenzy of unchaperoned parties, indecent conversations and cocktails of drinks and drugs.

Georgiana was a perfectly flawed protagonist; she was sweet-natured but also desperate to be liked and to have adventure, and this made her naïve and cruel to others, just to impress Frances. I spent a lot of the book trying to shake Georgiana out of her self-destructive behaviour! Pulled into Frances’s friendship group with the lure of drama and booze-soaked fun, Georgiana nearly loses herself in the thick of all the excitement and attention.

Croucher does an excellent job of blending the timeless troubles of young adults finding themselves and testing boundaries, with the Georgian backdrop of societal expectations. Nothing feels forced or modernised, or indeed modern conversation pushed into historical settings, it all felt very realistic and almost classical. The issues of friendship and family are timeless, and the lengths Georgiana goes to, to change and almost lose herself, in order to impress people, as well as peeling back the shiny façade of popularity, is something we recognise from today.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

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