Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Luxe

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 fiancĂ©; 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 dĂ©nouement.

Gossipgirl meets the 1800s.

After having read A Great And Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, I was set tight on getting my hands on another Victorian-flavored book. The cover of The Luxe itself is very hard to ignore, and so I picked it up.

With a large variety of point of views, this story could have been hard to follow. Anna Godbersen succeeded in spinning the story around everyone in a comfortable and interesting way, maintaining the balance through out the staggering spins and twists.

The character crew is very interesting, my favorite being Diana with her spunk attitude. Elizabeth is our common Victorian girl, keeping a goodey-goodey profile in public, pulling out the snappy attitude with her maid and relaxing and acting in a more honest way toward her beloved Will. It's a very good protrait of girls' behavior during these times and how they had to put on different expressions at appropriate times. Elizabeth, however, didn't hold my interest as much as her sister Diana who was less girly and more straightforward, standing out from the crowd of fancy girls. Penelope, the Queenbee, is simply the character 'you love to hate', and Henry the bad boy most girls would have liked to have. It was also good to have a maid as a protagonist who later ends up on the streets for it gave a nice approach to the less 'classy' side of New York, presenting the real 'trade' of the rich city.

Anna Godbersen's writing style is exquisite and detailed, bringing to life the Victorian's era colors and fashion. I enjoyed being able to imagine everything so well, and even if her details tend to be tenuous, they are not overloading.

The Luxe, however, is not an action book. There isn't as many thrill as I usually enjoy in books, and this is why for some this book might not be your cup of tea. The story, just like Gossipgirl, centers on circulating rumors that hinders people's lives or make the pleasure of others, harboring themes such as forced marriage, the austere reality of young girls during the end of the 1800s and impossible love. The storyline might seem dull to those who don't bite into stories featuring twirling girls, puffy dresses and dramatic romance.

Each chapter of this book is started with little clippings from various journals, newspapers or book that remind you of the society's rules. I found this very educative, for it helped me understand the Victorian era even better. It's also a reminder of the society's consciousness, expectations and constant gaze upon the classes and gossip.

The books starts a bit slowly, but once you are gripped to the characters, the storyline becomes confident and strong. It might not suit to everyone because of its girly and gossip-centered plot, but will surely please many teen readers.

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
Rating: 8,2/10

No comments:

Post a Comment

And now, the words are yours!