Friday, October 7, 2011

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

In the self-contained world of young Gilded Age Manhattan socialites, Elizabeth and Diana Holland reign supreme. Or so it seems. Scratch the surface, though, and you can detect festering jealousies that threaten to topple them. Elizabeth suffers a more literal fall when her carriage overturns and she is carried away by the swift East River current. That's only the beginning of the action and suspense in The Luxe, the launch volume in a teen series by Anna Godbersen.
First line:
On the morning of October 4, 1899, Elizabeth Adora Holland--the eldest daughter of the late Mr. Edward Holland and his widow, Lousia Ganesvoort Holland---passed into the kingdom of heaven."

I had a hard time putting this book down due to the intriguing characters, mystery and writing.
Yes, this book has a prologue and I like it. The prologue set up the place, time, characters, possible goals and society. The prologue is also set in the future to give the reader a few clues (or to throw us off) to what might transpire.
Let's start with the setting. New York, 1890's, where the wealthy have more than ten servants, get their clothes handmade or brought in from Paris and everyone must follow the strict codes of conduct. Of course, the stricter the codes, the more people want to break them
If you enjoy lavish descriptions of period clothing, you'll love this book.
The characters range from servants to the most wealthy. Servants wish they could trade places with their wealthy charges, the men and women are forced into marriages for money/appearances/guilt or manipulation.
Do you remember the one girl in school you loved to hate. Ms. Godbersen's got one. What about the stud/jock/player, the one everyone girl drooled over. Check. The nice girl who had secrets? The sister who wanted the boy her sister had? The best friend who wasn't? The ones concerned only with appearances? Check. Check.  Double check.
Ms. Godbersen has a chapter for each major character and sets them up with a blurb from the gossip columns or from the manners book. Very unique and great idea. The characters have their own voices and quirks and weaknesses and strengths.
All that being said, the characters didn't have a lot of moral strengths, which is too bad. Sex was used as a tool to manipulate, deceive and hurt others. Do not remember reading about a character waiting until after marriage to have sex.

I give this 3 stars because of lack of morals for almost anyone in the book.

Rating: PG 15
S: yes but no scenes, just alluded to
L: None
V: None

25% test (p. 108):
" be elsewhere? She was reminded of some vague impression from her childhood, of the Schoonmaker boy who was two years older than she and always smirking and who didn't seem to care about anything.
"I guess you know what the dinner is for," Henry said, giving Elizabeth a cold stare.
She shook her head petulantly. It occurred to her that Henry might be drunk. She glanced around her, as though for a familiar face to agree that all of this was very strange, and very rude. But there were only children and nannies calling to one another. Everybody she knew was hidden behind closed doors, and whatever happened next, she would have to deal with it herself. "no, I don't know what the dinner party is for."
"The dinner party," he said, pronouncing the words with derision, and rolling his dark eyes at the sky, "is for our engagement."
"you mean...the engagement of you"
"Yes," Henry replied with moderate sarcasm. "The much lauded engagement of miss Elizabeth Holland to Mr. Henry Schoonmaker."
And then she felt like the ground beneath her was crumbling away. She was hit by the nausea and light-headedness of looking down from a very great height. As she tried to keep herself upright, she couldn't but picture Will kneeling,..."

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