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The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Another Christmas gift, and one I wanted to read very much when it first came out, but shied away from somewhat after reading several reviews comparing it to the Gossip Girl series and stating that the writing left rather a lot to be desired. Oh, I thought sadly. That's too bad. It looked better than that. So I just admired the cover from afar, and that of the sequel Rumors. I probably would have just gone on ignoring the series if my mom hadn't given me a copy of The Luxe. I'm glad she did.

The prologue begins with Elizabeth Holland's funeral. The darling of upper crust Manhattan society, her sudden and inexplicable drowning in the Hudson shocks everyone from her frozen fiance Henry Schoonmaker to her scornful maid Lina Broud. The story then immediately jumps back several weeks to show us how events came to such a strange state. You think Elizabeth is going to be the main character, but she's not. She's not even very likable. Quiet, passive, perfect. Perfectly boring. That's Elizabeth. And that's why her best friend Penelope Hayes hates her. Everyone assumes Henry and Elizabeth would be perfect together, while Penelope is determined to have him for herself. And if you're wondering right now if the whole thing is as Peyton Place as it sounds thus far, the answer is yes. Yes it is. It's a roiling sea of love, despair, social climbing, and backstabbing. In perfectly lovely period costumes. It's hypnotic.

The story spends time going back and forth between five Victorian teens: Elizabeth, Henry, Penelope, Lina, and Diana (Elizabeth's younger, much more likable sister). And for awhile I kept thinking, Why am I reading this? These characters are perfectly awful. But then Diana became cool. Or rather I could tell she was going to become someone who was going to be cool. So I was reading it for Diana. The others I could take or leave. But then Henry started showing some good sense and just the slightest hint of a backbone, despite his apalling sense of entitlement. So I was reading it for Diana and Henry. And the dresses. Oh, the dresses. And because I enjoyed seeing Penelope swallow her own tongue when she finds out a certain couple are engaged. And, in the end, it was like watching a train wreck. A beautiful, awful train wreck. And I couldn't tear my eyes away from it. I had to run to the library to get a copy of Rumors to see What Happens. That review to follow shortly. 

Comments

  1. Anonymous12:01 PM

    dying to find out what you thought of the second one. I ate this one up -- Diana, Henry, the dresses, exactly. And then in the second one, they all got brain transplants, and the book made a nice little dent in my wall.

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  2. I enjoyed the first one, too. I just started listening to the second one on MP3 - it's going to take me a while to get through it, though, because I don't have much listening time.

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  3. I bought this one solely for the cover! My sister has it at the moment, but when I get it back I will read it.

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  4. Anon, hm. So far I'm enjoying it very much. Will keep you posted.

    Jen, I hope you enjoy listening to the second one. I'm kind of glad I got to these just now so I can plow right on to the third when it comes out at the end of the month.

    Marg, the cover is lovely, isn't it? I'd love to hear what you think when you get your copy back. :)

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  5. I was reading this for Diana (and later Henry), myself. And I rather liked Lina, too.

    I kept thinking I'd love to see *this* as a movie because wouldn't the costumes just be gorgeous!

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  6. So gorgeous. It would be fun to watch the spectacle on the big screen. :)

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  7. I confess that I bought The Luxe merely on the merits of it's breathtakingly gorgeous cover. Of course, I bought it for my daughter for Christmas in 2007 just so I could read it, but you know how that goes.

    My daughter and I did a back-to-back review back in April 2008 on her blog HERE. We both gave it a B grade. :)

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  8. Lovely reviews, Christine. It looks like we agree completely.

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