Author: Anna Godbersen
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Category: Young Adult
Page Count: 464
Release Date: September 2008
Quick Rating: 4/5
Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn.The first thing that drew me to the Luxe series was, of course, the absolutely stunning covers. What girl can resist those kinds of beautiful dresses?
Irresistible boys with sly smiles and dangerous intentions.
White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups.
This is Manhattan, 1899...
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 it, 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.
As much as I really loved the book, I’m actually finding it kind of hard to write a review for it. My thoughts are kind of all over the place in regards to The Luxe. One thing I really liked was the flow. I’m a big fan of alternating chapters, and I found I just could not put this book down. I devoured it in two nights before bed, staying up way later than I should on a work night. I also loved all the little notes and “newspaper” clips at the beginning of each chapter. Little details like that win big points in my book.
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I also found I was a little duped by the jacket blurb. I assumed that the tragic death of Elizabeth occurred maybe somewhere in the middle, but not at almost the very end. I guess the funeral prologue and the jacket had me fooled. Though, maybe even because of this, I totally predicted the end. To me, there was no mystery surrounding Elizabeth’s death. I think I almost would have preferred, since this is a series after all, to have the end in the next book, rather than the first. I think it would have left a little mystery, intrigue, and emotionality to the end.
Of course, the most important part was the characters - five teenagers at the height of society, whether they wanted to be there or not. While I actually did like most of the “cast”, I found myself thinking how God-awful selfish all of these people were at one point or another! And what an amazingly complex love-triangle/square/whatever! Elizabeth was, of course, sweet and strong, and (to me) a picture of exactly what a lady from 1899 should behave like. However, her thoughts that she could marry Henry, but still ask Will to love her were totally self-centered and rooted in fantasy. Her love to Will, though, was entirely romantic, and I wanted nothing more than for them to be together.
Henry was complex for me. He’s a total manwhore, but he’s charming and sad all at the same time. I feel like he almost hates himself, and I found myself just wanting him to be truly happy. Penelope was eviiiil in all the right ways. I hated her and loved her. She’s exactly what a perfect antagonist should be. I can honestly say I hated Lina the entire time. She just rubbed me in all the wrong ways, and I found myself wanting to reach through the pages and ring her neck.
My favorite was Diana. She was wonderfully complex, and I thought her mentality was right on the mark for a sixteen-year-old. Her head is full of romance and dreams, fabulous books and poems. She’s a true bohemian romantic (if a little bit of a try hard), but she’s genuine and I appreciate that. I also liked that she really did the right thing in regards to Henry. She felt guilt for what she was doing, and she made the choice to push her feelings aside for her sister. I’m really looking forward to what happens with Diana in the next book, and I’m actually really crossing my fingers her wishes come true.
The Final Word: Fantastic historical YA fiction. Nothing is more cutthroat than high society, and The Luxe portrays that accurately. While the characters can become annoying at times, and the plot a little predictable, there are a lot of redeeming factors.
Tea: Something entirely proper, of course, for society company. A nice glass of iced tea should go wonderfully.