Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fashion and Passion

Karen Harper, The It Girls (NY: William Morrow, 2017)

We think the term “It” is new, is hip, but there were “It” Girls and ideas in the late 1800s. Karen Harper brings two charming, ambitious, and highly successful Sutherland sisters out of obscurity and into the limelight in her newest novel. Both sisters marry well, at least on the surface, but their lives are anything but fairy tales. Lucile is a fashion designer for the rich and beautiful people of London, New York, Chicago, and Paris. Her couturier business, complete with living manikins (the forerunner of runway models), flourishes in the 1880s until WWI. Her sister Elinor defies social and class convention to write torrid romance novels that make the Brits blush and a newly founded Hollywood eager to put on the screen.

Harper weaves a tight story of friendship and sisterly rivalry, of hopes achieved and dashed. You’ll be drawn into the descriptions of clothing, the hints of scandal, and the passion that lies beneath the story. 

The It Girls is a satisfying addition to historical fiction that spans the 19th and 20th centuries. Once you enter this magical world, you’ll want to read to the very end.

If you like the idea of "It", check out "Nine Women, One Dress" by Jane L. Rosen (2016), about the most fabulous dress of the season.