Monday, March 3, 2008
Review: The Luxe
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
Reasons for reading: It's a hot YA book right now; sounded fun; the gorgeous cover!
First line: "In life, Elizabeth Adora Holland was known not only for her loveliness but also for her moral character, so it was fair to assume that in the afterlife she would occupy a lofty seat with an especially good view."
Summary (from Kirkus Reviews): A big, sumptuous tale of catty girls, dark secrets and windswept romance unfurls in this compulsively readable novel of late-19th-century New York City socialites. Godbersen weaves a tenuous web of deceit, backstabbing and pretense that follows four teens: Elizabeth Holland, a prim and proper lady of old-money society, is betrothed to one man, though furtively loves another; Henry Schoonmaker, a debauched playboy who must marry Elizabeth or be disinherited; Diana Holland, Elizabeth’s younger sister who is in love with her fiancé; and Penelope Hayes, a member of the nouveau riche who will stop at nothing to win Henry’s affections. As Elizabeth and Henry’s wedding approaches, the spectacle unfolds in a wondrously grandiose scene, making for a fun, though not entirely unexpected dénouement.
My thoughts: I'm serious about the cover - I want to go back in time for one night to wear that dress at a ball!! This book has been touted all over the place as Gossip Girl in the 19th century and that's what it is. As Kirkus says, the ending isn't a surprise at all, but getting there is still fun. I loved the sumptuous descriptions of the clothes and the historical details, though I think there were a few slips - I'm not 100% sure I believe that Penelope would have a gay best friend in 1899, for example.
While it's definitely not perfect, I'm giving it four stars for the fun factor. This book has been touted all over the place as Gossip Girl in the 19th century and that's what it is and I think it's pretty cool. The more things change, the more they stay the same - whether it's the 19th or the 21st century, the elite kids are all about flirting, champagne, clothes and parties. It also made me want to learn more about that period in New York's history and maybe even read an Edith Wharton novel (it opens with a quote from The Age of Innocence).