Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
2007; HarperCollins


Summary

In the self-contained world of young Gilded Age Manhattan socialites, Elizabeth and Diana Holland reign supreme. Or so it seems. Scratch the surface, though, and you can detect festering jealousies that threaten to topple them. Elizabeth suffers a more literal fall when her carriage overturns and she is carried away by the swift East River current. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

The Luxe is a turn of the century Gossip Girl - turn of the 20th century, that is. Life is more formal and class-based in 1899 New York City. The old class Dutch-American aristocracy is waging a cold war with the upstart nouveau-riche Industrialists. And beneath them both, the servants who work for them are struggling to break the barriers that separate the classes. We see all of these characters in The Luxe. Elizabeth, the paragon of virtue and blue blood, has to choose between her place in society and her secret passion. Diana, her little sister, who is in her sister's shadow. Penelope, filthy rich, ambitious, wants everything Elizabeth has and will drag her down to get it. Henry, a playboy who has to choose between family obligations and fun. Lina, the maid who hates her work and her mistress.

I quite enjoyed The Luxe, but it is not without flaws. The characters and plot were rather formulaic, but no more than most chick lit. I loved the rich descriptions of Victorian fashion and architecture. But the prose felt a little overdone at times - like a bad romance novel (e.g. "Elizabeth extended her long, slender neck...). Despite living 100 years earlier, the lifestyles of these characters were not very different from the Gossip Girl set. If you want to read about the sordid lives of the young and rich, The Luxe is a more tasteful way to go than Gossip Girl. The plot is nothing special, but it's still fun to read.

The book never really sucked me in, but it did grow on me. It was hard to get into the story, but once I did, I was just interested enough to keep going. I'd characterize the book as slow and steady. Never a page turner, but there's always enough there to make you want to continue.

I realize that my review has more criticism of the book than praise, but I really do think it's worth reading. It's never going to win any awards, but it's a good book. My reservations about the book are the same issues I have with most chick lit/Gossip-Girl-ish books. But I read them anyway. I would recommend The Luxe - as long as you go into it expecting a fun, gossipy read.

Rating: 3 / 5

12 comments :

  1. It's too bad that you didn't enjoy this book more. I haven't read it but the description makes it sound like it had a lot of potential! I think I will still add it to my TBR list though, sometimes you need a fun, gossipy read! Excellent review.

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  2. I just picked up Bright Young Things by this author. I heard it was good. I like historical book or books in the past. They always grab me. Nice review!

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  3. Mmm, yes, I agree. I liked it...but I didn't. You described my feelings perfectly about it when you talked about the pacing. There was just enough there to keep me reading, but it never really grabbed me. I liked the book enough to finish it, but I don't think I'll be reading the sequels. Will you read the sequels?

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  4. Hm. I think I'll pass on this series for now, there are so many books out there I'm dying to read, and I really like to be sucked into a story:) This one seems like it's entertaining enough, but nothing overly memorable. Thanks Alison!

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  5. I found that the series gets very addictive in the later books even though there are quite a lot of flaws as you said. I liked it but the writing wasn't fabulous! Will you carry on with the next books?

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  6. I agree with Stephanie. The series does get better with each book. I had to finish it to see what happens to the characters. Some of them I liked and others I waited in glee to have karma smack them upside the head.

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  7. Slow and steady, eh? I have a copy of this one waiting for me, but I'm going to wait until I have the time to devote to it. It seems like the kind of read you slowly digest instead of devour.

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  8. this review owns mine, but we definitely feel the exact same sentiments for the book.

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  9. Just stopping by on the Follow Friday hop! I would love to be Christine Derrick in Mary Balogh's Slightly Dangerous. The character I would to date would be a toss up between Wolfric in Slightly Dangerous or Drizzt do'urden from R.A. Salvaltore Forgotten Realms book series. Gotta love a dark elf, yeah.

    Hugs and blessings!
    Hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend.

    Judith Leger

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  10. I enjoyed the book when it first came out. I agree it's in the flair of Gossip Girl only Victorian. I thought it was enjoyable enough that I purchased the other books in the series. However, I did figure out the mystery and I was surprised in the ending -- still it's fun!

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  11. Hi Alison! I loved The Luxe, I just thought it was such a fun read-- like a guilty pleasure :) It's funny because I could not put this book down and read it in one day! Isn't it funny how a book can be like that for one person, and then for someone else not as interesting? Thanks for your review!

    Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland

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  12. I had some similar feelings to you about this one. I felt that the characters and the plot were cliched; the kind of stories that have been done a hundred times before and the writing was nothing special and yet...it was a nice read. I understand that it'd be hard to review because there's nothing in particularly to single out for high praise, but on the whole it's enjoyable.

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