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The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

October 27, 2007

cover of The Luxe by Anna GodbersenThe 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.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 30, 2007 3:40 pm

    That was my reaction, too – the writing made me cringe, but I had to keep going.

  2. Catherine permalink
    November 8, 2007 7:35 pm

    Writing was good – Moods are developed and scenes are believable, which probably explains the desire to read on. Why does the writing have to be “beautiful”?

    Catherine

  3. November 8, 2007 9:51 pm

    Well, writing doesn’t have to be beautiful. I can lose interest in a book with beautiful writing if there’s no plot, and there are books I love that don’t have beautiful writing. It’s just that, in the case of The Luxe, I WANTED the writing to be beautiful. Or at least better. Because if it had been, I would have totally loved the book. As it is, it was merely something to speed through to find out what happened instead of something I’d purposely take my time reading and savor, then immediately start re-reading because it was so good.

    Ultimately, different strokes for different folks. If people think The Luxe is great as it is, awesome. I’m glad you/they found a book to enjoy. I really am. And I’ll keep searching for the next book I’ll love as much as others love this.

  4. Katie permalink
    November 18, 2007 4:20 pm

    I just realized that that is exactly what I did throughout the whole book [read really fast to find out what happens].
    Yeah, the writing was anything to rave about. I think the style was way too modern.
    But like you said, I’ll have to read the following books.

  5. Sara permalink
    November 25, 2007 3:22 pm

    I think the book was good, but could have been WAY better

    Sara

  6. LUXE permalink
    January 3, 2008 3:19 pm

    I agree the writing style was too modern but all in all Anna Godbersen did a fantastic job! * seeing as this is only her first novel. I really did enjoy it and really looking foward to the sequel.

  7. Molly permalink
    January 8, 2008 4:11 pm

    I really liked this book. But i thought that some characters such as Penelope and Will needed more characteristics and personality. I also thought that the writing was good. The scenes were absoultly incredible… and believeable.And considering this is her debut novel… WOW! I am very excited for Rumors the sequel to The Luxe.

  8. Kay permalink
    January 12, 2008 5:56 pm

    Writing could have been better. It wasn’t. But like you, I am definitely going to be buying the sequel–and those after that. All in all, it made for a good read, and I was still impressed that it was a debut novel. With a little more insight and character development, this will make a great series.

    And it’s a whole lot cleaner than Gossip Girl. ;]

  9. Elaine permalink
    January 21, 2008 8:25 am

    I was absolutely addicted to finishing this book. I enjoyed it even though the writing was not that great. I am excited to get the sequel–Rumors. I am totally excited about it! I am anxious to find out if Elizabeth found Will and if Diana and Henry will get together. Sorry to those of you who haven’t read it!! If you haven’t you should because despite poor writing, the plot is addictive and it will leave you wanting more!!

  10. Swift permalink
    February 4, 2008 12:40 pm

    Hooray for The Luxe! I really really want to see these characters now. On account of the mediocre writing yet outstandingly complete plot and scenes, this seems like a book that wouldn’t be too badly ruined if Hollywood decided to make it into a movie sometime in the future. But who could fill the roles?

  11. Anonymous permalink
    March 23, 2008 3:56 pm

    I liked the way she detailed everything in the book, though. I agree the writing wasn’t captivating, but the plot and the details gave me a great image of everything. She has tons of room for imporvement, just like everyone else.

  12. anonymous permalink
    May 3, 2008 4:16 am

    i thought this book was great! i thought the writing was good and descriptive. it could have used a little more description in the characters and there personalities. like penelope, but i still had to keep reading and can’t wait til the sequel!

  13. July 24, 2008 3:25 pm

    Oddly enough I just reviewed this book. It had been sitting on my shelf for a while now. I would have to say I agree with what you wrote. This book could have been so much better. The historical details were OK at best. And I had an issue with all the sex. No girl in 1899 would risk such behavior. 1899 wasn’t a time of birth control and to get knocked up was a huge scandal that would destroy a young lady.

  14. Jade permalink
    April 1, 2009 7:26 am

    True, the whole sex thing wasn’t very realistic but without we would’have been winging even more ;]
    I guess it makes it so much better with it in there.
    I actually read Rumours too, and i’m looking forward now to Envy and Splendor!!! x

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