Tag Archives: Victorian Era

Rumors – Review

****If you havn’t read The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, then this review will contain some spoilers!!****

At the end of The Luxe, we were left with the following scenario:

1. Diana Holland is in love with Henry Schoonmaker, who used to date Penelope Hayes, but was forced into an engagement with Elizabeth Holland at their parents urging.

2. Penelope still is in love with Henry, if only for the sake of keeping appearances and her status as an elite New York socialite.

3. Elizabeth Holland faked her own death, with the aide of Penelope, so that she could run away with her true love, Will Keller (the Holland’s coachman, and therefore a a man in a lower class than Elizabeth.)

In Rumors, aptly named by the way, rumors float endlessly over who loves who, if Elizabeth is still alive, and what is going on behind the closed doors of the New York elite. This sounds like any normal tabloid filler that you would see in US Weekly, or OK magazine, but the thrill of this series, is that it is set in 1899, when gossip and rumors were more exciting and less jaded. In Rumors, Elizabeth tries to start a new life in California with Will, but is called back to New York at her sister’s urging, due to her mother’s ailing health, and Diana’s confusion and distress at her new social status. Henry’s stepmother and Penelope are in co-hoots to win Henry over to Penelope’s side by constantly blocking his visiting to Diana. Add to all this Lina’s struggling climb to the top of the social ladder, and this book is ripe with girlish power plays backstabbing and manipulation.

As in the first book, I would have liked to see more of evil, scheming Penelope (who in my mind is quite like Blair from Gossip Girl, and I guess that would make Elizabeth into Serena, Lina into Jenny and Will Keller as Dan). I did take longer reading this book than the first, only because it seems more of the same. Although I have the third book in the series at my house, I’m not sure if I want to jump right into it. I do however, keep browsing the etiquette books at the library because it seems like fun to try to be proper and elite even though I come home to a messy apartment and a very, very casual and home-body lifestyle.

Rumors (The Luxe series; bk 2)
Anna Godbersen
HarperCollins, 2008
ISBN 9780061345715
423 pages

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The Luxe – Review

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

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