Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Take on The Luxe Series

Review: The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Page Count: 1696 (combined)
Rating: 3/5

Plot in Under 10:

Life, propriety, and scandal in New York approaching the 1900s.

The summery for The Luxe (book 1):

Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn. Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles and dangerous intentions. White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups. This is Manhattan, 1899. Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City's elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone—from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud—threatens Elizabeth's and Diana's golden future. With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city's gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan's most celebrated daughter disappear... In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent

My Review

I have to say I was drawn in by the lovely covers, but was disappointed with this series. I loved the first book, but the other three to me were just a slow unraveling of all the happy endings the first promised. The series is based on four women in 1899 New York;

Elizabeth Holland: Oldest of the Holland sisters, at 18 years of age, Elizabeth is Manhattan's top socialite and the perfect example of a Lady, but now she must choose between her family’s reputation and following her heart.

Diana Holland: The youngest out of the two Holland sisters, at 16 years of age, Diana is a free spirit and doesn't like to conform to society's rules of how a lady should act and behave in social affairs. What if the thing she wants more than anything in the world is someone else's hands?

Penelope Hayes: At 18 year's of age, Penelope Hayes is new money. Her style is garish and behavior quite presumptuous but she still is one of Manhattan's most beautiful women. Penelope is ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what she most desires.

Lina Broud: At age 17, she has been serving for the Hollands her entire life. Lina is Elizabeth Holland's personal servant, and has grown bitter and jealous of the older girl. Although she has features some would think pretty, she is held back by her class. Can she make a better life for herself?

The books are: The Luxe, Rumors, Envy, and Splendor.

The 3 things I liked about the series:

1) The clothes and setting. Anna did a great job of pulling me into the world with her lush descriptions.

2) The quotes at the start of every chapter. They set the mood of the book nicely and gave it a historical feel.

3) The twists that I didn’t see coming. Every time I thought I had it figured out, something would be thrown in to completely change the direction of the story.

Now the downsides:

One happy ending out of four just wasn’t enough for me. There wasn’t enough of a payoff for all of the frustrations throughout the books.

I like to feel excited, captivated, or driven when I read, but I found with the final three books I was constantly feeling upset and only finished them because I desperately wanted a better ending, which consequently I didn’t get.

I would suggest, as I did to a friend of mine who had just read the first book, to stop there. I really enjoyed the first book and it had a decent ending. I wrote a happy ending one-shot link here.

*sidebar: I find it funny that in her bio at the end of the book it says that Anna first started writing with a re-write of a book she read that she didn’t like the ending of…

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