New York in the 1899’s is a frivolous and fantastic time for a certain set of elite teenagers, whose time is engaged in parties, fashion and well, romance.
The Luxe begins with the funereal procession of Elizabeth Holland, 17 and one of New York’s finest young ladies from the established line of Hollands. The first chapter gently introduces us to the cast of characters that make up this glamorous novel. As the rest of the novel continues, we go a little bit back in time, to when Elizabeth is still among the living. Through various decisions made by the characters, the story eventual goes around in a full circle by the end of the book explaining the death of such a fashionable and proper young lady. As a teen book, I did find the ending rather predictable, and I didn’t think the characters classified as the antagonists were really all that evil. There were quite a few characters to keep track of in this book, and some did not get as much attention as I thought they deserved (I would have liked to see Penelope be more scheming for instance.)
I think Anna Godbersen did a fantastic job of really bringing the 1899-1900’s to life with the fashion, etiquette and mannerisms of the characters. While reading this book I felt inclined to check out an ettiquette book from my library, such to brush up on my social skills.
One thing I was worried about and thankfully didn’t actually experience was the potential of the novel reading as if Godbersen took modern-day teens and stuck them in a time-warp. I felt like I was actually reading about the children of the elite of 1900. I liked the juxtaposition between Elizabeth and her maid Lina. Both felt trapped by their social standing and wanted more from their life. Both felt obligated to a life they didn’t want because of filial duties. Although this book did glam up the Victorian era, I think it did a fantastic job of showing that appearances are not always truthful, and that just because something sounds fantastic, does not necessarily mean it is everything you want it to be.
I think that the following two novels in the series will be much more interesting than this first, particularly with how everything was left unfinished at the end of The Luxe. This series is picking up some popularity points at the library, so I have a little bit of wait before I can start reading Envy. I am spacing out the books though, because the characters in this novel can be quite annoying with their constant whining about their situation in life.The Luxe Anna Godbersen Harper Teen, 2007 ISBN 0061345661 433 pages