Author: Lex Croucher
Narrator: Bessie Carter
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 58 minutes
Bridgerton meets Gossip Girl with a dash of Jane Austen, in this Regency-era historical romantic comedy with a deliciously feminist twist, from a hilarious new British voice, Lex Croucher.
Abandoned by her parents, middle-class Georgiana Ellers is spending the summer with her stodgy aunt and uncle at their home in the English countryside. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who delights Georgiana with her disregard for so-called “polite society”.
Lonely and vulnerable, Georgiana quickly falls in with Frances and her wealthy, wild, and deeply improper friends, who introduce her to the upper echelons of Regency aristocracy, and a world of drunken debauchery, frivolous spending, and mysterious young men. One, in particular, stands out from the rest: Thomas Hawksley, who has a tendency to cross paths with Georgiana in her most embarrassing moments. Sparks fly, but Thomas seems unimpressed with the company she is keeping. And soon, Georgiana begins to wonder whether she’ll ever feel like she fits in – or if the price of entry into Frances’ gilded world will ultimately be higher than she is willing to pay.
Set against a backdrop of lavish parties, handsome men on horseback – and in a time when one’s reputation was everything – this edgy, hilarious romantic comedy explores sex, consent, belonging, and status through the eyes of an unforgettable heroine for whom Austen herself would have cheered.
Regency era novels with a slight modern twist always intrigue me, so I was excited to see a new take with Reputation. If you’re more of a “purist” historical reader, then this novel may not be fully for you. For me, I love these types of novels where it is set in a historical period but mirrors some modern-day elements. The story follows twenty years old Georgiana Ellers, who is sent to live with her aunt and uncle after her parents decide to relocate to the seaside. At a dinner party she meets Frances Campbell, an elite socialite who loves trouble. As Georgiana grew up more sheltered, she is fascinated by Frances’s world and is excited to become a part of it.
Throughout the novel Georgiana explores the meaning of friendship as she navigates those that are true friends and those that have less meaning. There is also a romance that develops between Georgiana and a man named Thomas Hawksley. This is more of a secondary story compared to the friendships, but it was still well-written. I enjoyed Georgiana and Thomas’s interactions and how Thomas was more open with his emotions. There are interesting secondary characters, such as, Frances, Cecily (Frances’s friend), and Betty (a girl Georgiana meets). While they may not all be likable, they all worked together within the story.
The novel itself is full of scandal that is exposed as Georgiana navigates this new world. She is a painfully naïve character, so she is frustrating at times, but she has great growth over the course of the novel. She makes many mistakes and does terrible things at times, which she eventually needs to reflect on. There are some darker themes throughout the story, such as alcohol abuse, sexual assault, and racism, just to name a few. These are touched on throughout, but I do wish that they were explored in greater detail. The general outline follows a similar structure to Mean Girls, so it is easy to see why this comparison works. As I listened to this on audiobook, I greatly enjoyed the narrator and it helped move the story along at a decent pace. There were some places in the writing that were a little slower, but the audiobook kept me interested. Overall, I enjoyed this novel and I look forward to reading the author’s next release!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin and Macmillan Audio, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**