Top positive review
71 people found this helpful
on 14 December 2007
If we think that it's a new thing, the way that the gutter press and gossip mags now are obsessed with celebrity, we're wrong. The Bright Young People were there first. I bought this book after reading a review, because I'm interested in one particular person in one particular photograph. I found it enlightening and amusing. The Bright Young People that Taylor writes about were few; no doubt a lot of hangers on described themselves as Bright Young People during and after the event, but this book is about the epicentre, the small group of partygoers who started the trend then either took a back seat, left the country or were destroyed by it. The book concentrates on the essence of the movement, if that's what it was, the people at the heart of it, actual events and the people the newspapers wrote about. It doesn't truly describe a whole generation, just the ones who defined it and the waves they made.
Reading about them, I can see the influence they had on my working class, northern great aunt who gave up a good job as a cook to train as a secretary in London so she could go out dancing in the 1920s. She must have read about them in the press and wanted a part of it. She went on to run the factory that made rivets for Spitfires, then to help at a refugee camp in Italy, spoke four languages and judged dogs at Crufts. The Bright Young People seem to have unleashed a spirit of defiance of convention that spread amongst their generation then was crushed by mid century hardship and censorship. It makes me want to reread Waugh and watch Stephen Fry's Bright Young Things with a better understanding of their list of players.
There have always been upper class scoundrels, fritterers, debtors, drunks, sluts and fallen angels; for me, the way the press and contemporary novelists documented this particular group has the most relevance to present times.