The Luxe by Anna Godbersen is a novel set in New York in 1899, at the height of the super-rich society families for whom appearance was everything. It is about a group of young people, all of whom want to break the constraints of their lives in different ways and for different reasons.
The very first page of the novel is the funeral announcement for Elizabeth Holland. After a glimpse of the funeral, we are taken back in time to a few weeks before to find out what happens. This is a bit of a strange start, opening with the funeral of one of the main characters, but it does have a page-turning effect, as you always want to keep going to find out what happened to Elizabeth during what should have been a special time of her life.
The setting of the novel, New York 100 years ago, is very interesting, but I don't think it is used as well as it could be. Instead of treating the reader to lots of descriptions of the city as it was then, and of the contrasting opulence and poverty found in the city, we learn very little about it and it is rather matter of fact. The city is just a place, rather than the character that it could be in a novel such as this.
There is a variety of characters in The Luxe, most of whom will provoke emotions. Elizabeth is a strange one, as when she takes the lead (each chapter is in third person, from the point of view of one of the main characters) it is easy to sympathise with her and understand her. However, everyone else in the novel sees her as dull and very proper, never breaking the rules. It's difficult to know what to think of her, because although we know the truth about her, it is easy to be influenced by the opinions of the other characters.
The "bad guy" is wonderfully bad. Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth's so-called best friend, is really horrible and manipulative piece of work, incredibly glamorous and beautiful, but she knows it. Throughout the novel I wanted her to get her comeuppance, to be exposed as the nasty, self-centred girl she is. Henry Schoonmaker, one of the main male characters, should probably be a bad guy, but he's really just rather pathetic and pitiful. He doesn't treat people well, but it's hard to hate him because he's pathetic.
Elizabeth's servant, Lina, should be a good character - at least she is at first, but I soon found myself disliking her almost as strongly as Penelope. She turns out to be selfish and greedy, and also slightly delusional.
In terms of the story, The Luxe is enjoyable, but I spotted the twist quite a long time before it happened, which is always disappointing. I also found that I spent a lot of time puzzling over the timeline of the novel, which at first seems somewhat implausible. The main section of the novel starts around three weeks before Elizabeth's funeral, which was also to have been her wedding day, but at the start of those three weeks she is not even engaged - this comes several days later. This was later addressed as part of the story, it didn't turn out that the New York elite in 1899 only had two-week engagements, but it did distract me for some time before being cleared up.
The Luxe is mainly aimed at teenage readers, but I enjoyed it as an adult, and I would recommend it to others who enjoy a light read. It is the first in a series, and from the preview of the second novel (Rumours) given at the end of The Luxe, it will have a similar premise and also sounds worth a read.
The Luxe is a book that I've had for ages but not got round to reading, I found it the other day and started it, once I started I found it really quite hard to stop and was glad that I had found it!
On the front of the book there is a quote, 'All the glitz of the OC but with bigger frocks and more dashing boys,' and I really think that this sums up the book quite well, but I'd say that it was slightly more Gossip Girl than OC as it is set in New York rather than California! Other than that though, it is really quite similar to these programmes (basically about teenagers having a good time with lots of scandal and secrets in the glamorous rich group of the city, it's all the same as it was 100 years ago!) and if you are or know a teenager who likes these shows but isn't that into reading then this might be a good one for them. It details the life of families who were New York's elite in 1900, specifically focusing on the Hollands - an old New York family who recently lost their father, and therefore are starting to lose their fortune for it. There is only one thing for it, one of the daughters must marry into a rich family and it falls to prim and proper Elizabeth rather than wild child Diana, it seems simple but then everything starts to go wrong with cheating, sisterly love, jealousy, secret lovers and more! Will Elizabeth marry for money rather love? Read and find out.
Because it is set around 100 years ago, it does have a lot of archaic language in it, you can get around most of this by reading it in the context but this does mean that it should probably be for older, more advanced readers. Other than that though, its fine for any age because most of the stuff is hinted it rather than described in detail, although its aimed towards teenagers I think that adults would probably like to read it as well as what its talking about can apply to them too, and its really quite a good read especially good for if you like historical novels, this is a bit of less extreme version of one of them.
The luxe is a novel set in New Yorks high society in 1899. Written by Anna Godberson, the story starts with a funeral of Miss Elizabeth Holland.
The book then goes back in time and follow Elizabeth Holland, her "Best Friend" Penelope Hayes, her maid Lina and her younger sister Diana Holland as they struggle to find love while still being proper and doing as their parents wish (or not!), with some scandalous results.
Elizabeth Holland is the "perfect" child, she is the elder Holland girl beautiful and always polite. Diana, her younger sister is just as beautiful but a little more wild and desperately seeking romance and adventure in her life. Penelope is ambitious and stunning, her family is New Money but she is determined rise in society and become the most envied girl. Her biggest rival, Elizabeth, is also her best friend.
This is a really great book which i couldn't put down, the sequel rumours is also brilliant. And I am now half way through the 3rd book in the series Envy.
I would really recommend these books!
A great holiday read!!
~Warning, May contain Spoilers!~
The Luxe is a romantic teenage read written by Anna Godbersen.
The Luxe is set in New York, 1899. The book starts with the funeral of Elizabeth Holland, who has a mysterious death, daughter of one of New York's richest and most well-known families. After the funeral, the book starts at a ball which Elizabeth attends.
The book goes through Elizabeth's life starting from the ball.
Elizabeth's life is luxurious and when it is threatened, Elizabeth must marry a man, Henry Schoonmaker, a man also from a rich family, to secure her family's financial future. Elizabeth does not know, but her so-called best friend socialite Penelope Hayes is Henry Schoonmaker's lover and wanted to marry him herself. Elizabeth's love life is already complicated with her secret affair with servant Will Keller! Henry has been forced into his marriage with Elizabeth by his father, but he secretly has feelings for Elizabeth's sister Diana Holland! The Luxe seems to have a love pentagon! The Luxe includes another character Elizabeth's maid Lina. She also has a romance in the book, firstly with Will Keller, but then a boy called Tristan Wrigley seduces her.
Anna Godberson did some research or this book, so the book has quite a few historical accuracies. After reading the first few chapters, I guessed correctly what was going to happen at the end. Although it is quite a predictable book, it does not make the book a bad read, the detail which is put into the book is great. Full of secrets and revenge, The Luxe is a can't-put-it-down read!
Personally, I thought the book was quite hard to get into, so you really have to concentrate for a while.
The Luxe has a sequel, Rumors: A Luxe Novel, which I have not read yet. However I will most probably read the sequel as I'd love to know what happens next.
I have the paperback edition which I bought at WH Smith for it's retail price, which is £6.99 but on the website it is £5.99, though I'm sure it can be found cheaper. I think the book is aimed at about 14+, maybe a bit older, as it can all be a bit confusing. Although The Luxe is aimed at a teenage group, I think older readers would find this book to be a good read.
Overall I recommend The Luxe, it is a detailed book with a good storyline, but quite a predictable ending.