Book Review: The Luxe Series

The Luxe, Rumors, Envy, and Splendor (The Luxe series) by Anna Godbersen

Click on the book cover to find library copies of all the books in the series.

A REVIEW OF THE LUXE: A big, sumptuous tale of catty girls, dark secrets and windswept romance unfurls in this compulsively readable novel of late-19th-century New York City socialites. Godbersen weaves a tenuous web of deceit, backstabbing and pretense that follows four teens: Elizabeth Holland, a prim and proper lady of old-money society, is betrothed to one man, though furtively loves another; Henry Schoonmaker, a debauched playboy who must marry Elizabeth or be disinherited; Diana Holland, Elizabeth’s younger sister who is in love with her fiancĂ©; and Penelope Hayes, a member of the nouveau riche who will stop at nothing to win Henry’s affections. As Elizabeth and Henry’s wedding approaches, the spectacle unfolds in a wondrously grandiose web of friends, lovers, lies and betrayal. (adapted from Kirkus Reviews)

Among New York's wealthiest citizens at the turn of the 20th century, the money made by the family patriarchs was meant to be spent. Decadent homes, lavish parties, elaborate fashions, and juicy gossip were a fact of everyday life in these families. The author's fictional imaginings are very close to the truth, and even reference some real New York society families of the time, such as the Vanderbilts and the Astors. These books do not read like historical fiction because the wider world only briefly intrudes into the complicated machinations of high society. The Luxe series does an amazing job of bringing the reader inside the insulated lifestyle of Manhattan's elite families of that time. It's like Gossip Girl with better fashion and more manners! The historical detail is impeccable, yet it's the scandalous behavior that will keep you reading.

I do have a few quibbles with the writing style, which is probably more glaring since I read them all at once. I know there are only so many ways to describe something, but some adjectives were greatly overused during the series. I got really tired of hearing about Carolina's "bee-stung" lips or Snowden's "preternaturally blond" hair. Some descriptive passages were also a little too similar among the books to be really interesting and I found myself skimming the text to get to another "good part." I suspected many of the bigger events in the books long before they happened, but, nonetheless, the intrigue among the characters and the never-ending plot twists kept me hooked on the books until the final shocking chapters.

Although Splendor is the final installment in this series, I would love to see the author write another series furthering the adventures of a certain character in Europe. I would also beg her to move forward in time and write about 1920s New York, continuing the story of her high society families from The Luxe with a new generation.

Find out more about the series, read the first book for free online, send Luxe e-cars. and more at the official website: http://www.theluxebooks.com/. You can even watch a book trailer for The Luxe!

And if you like reading about this era of history, often called the Gilded Age, read Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. It's a highly readable classic about high society, and is one of my all-time favorite books.


Mechelle Fogelsong said...

Along the same lines, can I suggest the Victorian-set GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray? This novel is a gothic paranormal mystery with a touch of teen romance. Loved it!

The day I finished the last page, I got in my car, drove through a snowstorm, and bought the next two books in the series because I didn't want to go a single day without reading on to the conclusion of these books!

I recently posted a review of these books with links to Amazon & the author's own web site, on my blog. I think you can get there by clicking my name... Not sure.

Gretchen said...

those books have had a following at our library since the first one came out! i saw it in processing one snowy winter night when we weren't busy, and ended up reading a good chunk of it before i even went home. kartik was our heartthrob long before edward!!