Reputation by Lex Croucher

Today I’m delighted to join the blog tour for Reputation by Lex Croucher. It’s quite a step away from my usual crime thrillers, but a change is definitely as good as a rest. My thanks to Jenna Petts of Bonnier for the invite and the gifted copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 08 July 2021
Publisher: Zaffre

About the Book

The hilarious debut novel from Lex Croucher. A classic romcom with a Regency-era twist, for fans of Mean Girls, Bridgertonand Jane Austen.

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 . . .

This witty romcom about status, friendship, and first loves explores sex and consent in a time when reputation was absolutely everything, and feminism in a time when women’s rights were a completely different story. It’s full of lavish parties, handsome men on horseback and a sense of humour that would have given Austen herself a chuckle.

My Thoughts

Okay. So I’m a trifle older than the average age of the readers you might expect for this book. Just a smidge. But I’m not so old that I don’t remember the perils of navigating young adulthood, or quite old enough to remember it all regency style … I am, however, still youthful enough to appreciate a book that is full of wit and great character observations. The description of this as Mean Girls meets Jane Austen or Bridgerton (and I admit that I’ll have to take their word on the latter as I’ve not actually watched it) rings very true. Each situation, each page turn, led me to think of all of the tricky relationships and friendships that I navigated or witnessed when at school and college, and whilst the characters are a bit older than your average. secondary schooler, the issue they face – acceptance, first love, entitlement, arrogance and friendship – are things that everyone can identify with.

This is the story of Georgiana Ellers, sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle when her parents grow tired of the whole parenting thing. She knows noone, has little status with which to ingratiate herself with others, but somehow finds herself caught up in the whirlwind of social friendships that is Frances Campbell. They are chalk and cheese – Frances outgoing whilst Georgiana is somewhat quieter and uncertain, at least at first. But there is another side to Georgiana, one which is exposed in quite dramatic and not always likeable style. The transformation is quick and the young woman who I could initially feel some sympathy towards rapidly becomes someone who I could cheerfully slap.

And yet … in spite of this, I really did enjoy Georgiana’s story. Yes she is a girl we can probably all recognise, might even have been ourselves, someone who is desperate for a little excitement in her life, looking to fit in somewhere other than in the assumed dull company of those her Aunt deems suitable. I think we can all understand that. And we’ve all seen people who act out of character in order to make others like them. Common as anything, and played out in perfectly observed style here in the book.

It’s not all about the ‘mean girls’ vibe. There are some tender moments when Georgiana’s real character shines through and these are the moments when I liked her and became more invested in her story. She is funny, in her own way, as shown in her back and forth correspondence to the object of her affections. He may not be her new friend’s idea of the perfect suitor, but there is a definite chemistry between Georgiana and Thomas which the author has built up brilliantly. Fun, flirty, tentative and beset with the kinds of obstacles that you would encounter in any classic by Austen or Bronte. There is a spark of the defiance and independence that reminded me of Jo from Little Women, but mixed with a healthy dose of Amy – pursuit of social standing that pushes Georgiana away from the kind of woman she’d really like to be.

The characterisations in this book are spot on. From the overly enthusiastic Mrs Burton, Georgiana’s Aunt, the privileged, mischievous and often hard to like group of Frances, Jane, Cecily, Jonathan and Christopher, to the absolute arrogance of Jeremiah, the person who has won Frances’ affections, there are a whole array of personalities to both love and loathe. I really did like Thomas, aloof to a degree, kind of Darcy-ish in his reticence to engage with Georgiana but with good cause. And then there is dear Betty Walters. Could talk the hind legs off a donkey but I really did like her and had a great deal of empathy for her as a character.

If you are looking for a modern take on a regency set classical tale, then this could definitely be for you. If you just want to read a cracking book that will have you cheering, smiling, laughing and booing in all the right places, then I would heartily recommend it.

About the Author

Lex Croucher is a writer, producer and YouTuber based in London, with over 100,000 followers across her social media platforms. Lex published a YA non-fiction book in 2019, called You’re Crushing It.

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