The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
The cover of Anna Godbersen’s The Luxe is eye-catching, gorgeous, and guaranteed to get noticed. It’s too bad the writing inside is not as beautiful as the cover because the plot is as addictive as any guilty pleasure.
Elizabeth Adora Holland is the golden girl of New York’s social set. Beautiful, kind, and from an old money family, she is admired by everyone but those who should be there for her when she needs them most—because Elizabeth has a secret that will stand in the way of her happiness if she puts her family’s welfare ahead of her heart, and this is 1899, when scandals can devastate not just a person, but a family.
The setting and plot are the main reasons to read The Luxe. Godbersen’s writing style is rather pedestrian; it gets the job done but is nothing to rave about. Nor are the characters well-developed or their motivations sufficiently explored. They seemed more like placeholders, stock characters merely there to fill a role and propel the story. There’s the backstabbing best friend, Penelope Hayes, who is Elizabeth’s best friend only because she decided that becoming friends with her greatest competition would make it easier to defeat her. The polar opposite younger sister, Diana, a romantic, determined to not conform to society’s strictures like other girls, until she finds herself fascinated by the one man she should never want. The jealous girl, Lina Broud, Elizabeth’s maid, once her friend and playmate, now resentful because of Elizabeth’s money and, most of all, the man who loves her. As for Elizabeth, we’re told her secret, but not exactly how it happened or why we should believe it’s so important to her. Yet, somehow, I was still caught up in the story, anxious and impatient to find out what, if anything, Penelope, Diana, and Lina had to do with Elizabeth’s death.* There was no way I was not finishing this book.**
The Luxe will no doubt draw comparisons to Gossip Girl (and like Gossip Girl, it was developed by Alloy Entertainment). At one point, HarperTeen was marketing it as “Gossip Girl meets the Gilded Age,” which is actually a pretty accurate representation, though I can’t find the comparison on the website or in the book description now. The Luxe is the first book in what I believe is a planned trilogy, and you can bet I’ll be reading the next book when it’s published.
The Luxe will be published on 11/20.
* No, this is not a spoiler. The prologue takes place during Elizabeth’s funeral.
** Which makes me wonder if I’m not giving Godbersen enough credit. Yet as I was reading, I was cognizant of not being impressed by the writing even as I was hooked on the plot.