Bright Young People: The Lost Generation of London’s Jazz Age
by D. J. Taylor
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 384 pages, $29.
IN THE ROARING TWENTIES, an elite group of bohemian types and upper-crust men and women became the center of London’s social world overnight, drawing celebrity from their spectacular costume parties and elaborately staged publicity stunts. Today we have the Olsen Twins and Britney Spears; the It girl for this age was one Elisabeth Ponsonby, a young woman who drove her parents to distraction with her spendthrift ways and reckless living. Her journal entries disclose a shocking strain of self-destructiveness that epitomizes the devil-may-care Zeitgeist.