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Book Reviews

Review: “The Luxe,” Anna Godbersen

October 7, 2011
Review: “The Luxe,” Anna GodbersenThe Luxe (Luxe #1)
Written by Anna Godbersen
Published November, 2007 by HarperCollins
433 pages
Genres: Historical
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three-stars

Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan’s social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City’s elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone—from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud—threatens Elizabeth’s and Diana’s golden future.

With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city’s gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan’s most celebrated daughter disappear…

In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.

I’ve seen so many people compare this to Gossip Girl, and after reading it, I can definitely see why. Anna Godbersen is a fantastic author – and I’m happy to announce that I couldn’t find a single fault at all with her writing style – the only downside for me, unfortunately, is that The Luxe, while utterly fabulous, just wasn’t my ‘thing’.

I have to start by saying that I did enjoy The Luxe. As mentioned briefly, Anna Godbersen has a fantastic style and this genre certainly fits well with her writing capabilities. I couldn’t find a flaw. She had the time period so down pat for me. The only problem was that it wasn’t the story for ‘me’. I’ve had this one on my bedside table for about a month now, only being able to read a few chapters here and there. The Luxe was one of those novels I needed to take a break from. It’s also over 400 pages long, so if you’re going to invest time in reading The Luxe, give yourself a little leeway or perhaps have another fast-paced book on hand to break it up.

The in The Luxe weren’t ones I was able to identify with or relate to. I didn’t particularly like any of them apart from Diana, the younger Holland sister. Her relationship with Henry Schoonmaker was the only thing I really looked forward to when delving deeper into the pages. The other girls, especially Elizabeth, grated on my nerves at more than one point. But that’s the thing with this book, in a crazy way, you read to witness their downfall. I don’t think any character in The Luxe is meant to be rooted for. They all have their bad sides; you just have to pick the one that is least likely to stab you in the back!

At the start I thought I’d enjoy the maid, Lina, but I found myself despising her toward the end. I could understand her yearning for Will’s attention, but the lengths she went to were a little extreme. She kept making the wrong choices, too; especially when she was finally gifted with a means to change her life and almost blew it. I don’t want to give anything away, but I found myself changing my mind about each character continuously! I suppose that’s the Anna Godbersen flair!

That being said, I really commend Anna on her ability to represent the time period and nuances of the characters so clearly. If I was a huge YA historical fiction buff, I would have devoured this. As it is, I currently enjoy my historical fiction with a hint of magic or the supernatural (for example; The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray and Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink). Still, no doubt this series is one many people will love.

I’m glad to have finally quenched my curiosity on The Luxe. It’s one of those books I’ve been meaning to read – literally for years. I have the next book in the series, Rumours, on loan from a friend, but at this point I’m not quite sure when I’ll get around to reading it.

Recommended to: Fans of historical fiction will really enjoy this, as well as fans of Gossip Girl. I know a lot of people compare them, but truly, try NOT to envision Blair Waldorf as the sneaky Penelope Hayes!

About Anna Godbersen

Anna Godbersen was born in Berkeley, California and moved to New York to attend Barnard College. After graduating she worked in the literary department of Esquire magazine, where she also wrote book reviews. She lives in Brooklyn.

4 Comments

  • Reply Cialina October 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Hah! You know, I actually liked Elizabeth a lot more than I liked Diana. I am completely opposite with you regarding that fact.

    On a side note, now you’ve got me curious about the Prophecy Sisters!

    Also, this new theme makes me jealous. I think I need to change up my blog more often. :P

    • Reply Brittany October 12, 2011 at 3:18 am

      Haha, that is very strange! I think that’s what I like best about this book, though. Each character is so different and every reader will gravitate towards one and hate the others ;)

      You definitely NEED to pick up Michelle Zink’s series this instant! They’re fantastic and the second and third books are just perfection.

      :D Aw, thank you!!! I often to check your blog – and hope that there’s a new theme, because ENVY!!! :P!

  • Reply Kate @ Nomalicious Reads October 8, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I’ve been meaning to read this one for years also. I’m a big Historical YA fan, also a big Historical YA Paranormal fan lol. (currently reading Prophecy of the Sisters atm – loving it!)

    I’ve been really really skeptical about reading this, because I’m not a huge fan of multiple character POV changes, also the cover reminded me of Paris Hilton haha. I got it cheap on Kindle so I have to get around to reading this eventually!

    Although Gossip Girl is good its very very bitchy with lots of crazy stuff happening – and that’s all good but I don’t know how I would go with reading a book like that!

    Great Review!! Will have to read this sooner to see what I think.

    -Kate

  • Reply Cindy October 8, 2011 at 6:55 am

    I also enjoyed this one, but like you, also found the characters annoying. I was never able to pick up the rest of the books in the series though, maybe some day. Great review :)

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