Sunday, August 8, 2010
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen: A Book Review
Beautiful socialite Elizabeth Holland, although a member of the elite upper-class of New York City, has just discovered that her family's future is far from secure. Fortunately for the family, her mother has devised a plan to marry Elizabeth off to the extremely wealthy and handsome Henry Schoonmaker. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, she couldn't care less about Henry...she's in love with the family's coachman, Will Keller.
Diana Holland, Elizabeth's younger sister, is a free spirit. She shudders to think of the dull life that is ahead of her...endless balls and tea-time visits with vapid gentlemen. She dreams of finding true love, but, after much searching, she's decided this borders on hopeless. So she buries her nose in books, hoping to find consolation in fictional romance...until she meets her sister's fiance. It's soon clear that they're both in love...the only problem is, Henry will have to marry Diana's sister in a matter of weeks!
Henry Schoonmaker has been forced into a marriage he doesn't want. In his eyes, Elizabeth is, although beautiful, vapid and dull. Her sister, on the other hand, is filled with life. He'd love nothing more than to marry her instead. But he also has another girl after him...
...Beautiful and wicked Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth's best friend. That is, until she finds out that Elizabeth is going to marry Henry, whom she loves. Feeling betrayed, Penelope decides that she'll stop at nothing to keep Elizabeth from marrying Henry...even if it means getting her out of the picture, permanently.
Lina Broud is Elizabeth's maid. Having been one of her closest friends until Elizabeth's debut, now Lina is saddened at watching her former best friend drifting further and further away, into a world that Lina will never be introduced to. But this regret turns to rage when Lina discovers that Elizabeth and Will Keller are together, because she happens to love Will as well. Lina wouldn't mind getting rid of Elizabeth either. In a chance meeting, Lina discovers that she and Elizabeth's beautiful "friend", Penelope, have much more in common than they thought...
This was a good, if pretty mindless, read. The historical details were lush, vivid, and accurate, and the characters were for the most part enjoyable, even if a few were a bit one-sided. Diana had to be the best character, in my opinion. She was many-sided and complex, and a fun character. Elizabeth and Henry I didn't like as much, though I began to like Henry more near the end when his kind side began to show through. Elizabeth was boring to me, and although she was always thought of as "nice" throughout the book by other characters, she was rude and unpleasant to Lina. Maybe this was why I sympathized with Lina more; I could see why she would be resentful towards Elizabeth, who used to be her friend and now was cold to her. Penelope was...not a nice person, but she was one of the more interesting characters because of it, and I liked reading her chapters.
Where this book failed, sadly, was the plot. At first I thought it would be a murder mystery, but it turned out to focus more on the time BEFORE the one character's "death". And the plot was completely predictable...as soon as it was mentioned that no body had been found, I knew how this book was going to end. Luckily, the great historical details and the enjoyable characters saved it. I WILL be reading the next one--hopefully the plot will be better.
Overall rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars