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Monday, April 4, 2011

Book Review: The Luxe

Author: Anna Godberson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Series: The Luxe #1
Release Date: November 20, 2007
Pages: 448
Read it in: 2 days

The Hook: 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.

Summary: 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.

LC's Take: 

Reading this book was like devouring a giant, heavily-frosted piece of dark-chocolate cake with a big glass of golden, bubbly champagne—it was just a wonderfully decadent and guilty pleasure from beginning to end.

The year is 1899, and sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland are caught up in all the opulent wealth and scandalous intrigue of New York City’s Gilded Age. Anna Godberson does an incredible job of bringing this world to life in all its vibrant color—I absolutely loved it! From the witty dialogue to the luxurious descriptions of upper-class life, to the dynamics that unfold between the characters, this book had me hooked within the first couple pages.

The cast of characters really stood out for me. From Elizabeth Holland, the elder sister who is pulled along by her sense of duty to her family and outwardly conforms to all the etiquette of her class (while secretly harboring a love affair with the family’s coachman), to Diana Holland, the younger sister who is calculating, unconventional and rebellious towards everything having to do with “high society.”

And the side characters are just as engaging: Penelope Hayes is Elizabeth’s “best friend” who ruthlessly tries to bring her down at all costs as revenge for taking the eligible but hopeless playboy Henry Schoonmaker away from her. Henry Schoonmaker is pompous and vain, chasing after as many skirts as he can. Mrs. Holland is consumed by the fortunes of her family and the need to maintain their wealth and luxury at all costs after the death of her husband. Lina the maid is jealous and spiteful of her old friend Elizabeth, who has not only stolen Will, the man she’s secretly in-love with, but who was once her best friend and now uses her as her servant. If this all sounds like some crazy Italian-operetta with a bunch of different POVs and intrigues, well you wouldn’t be far off! The entire cast of characters work together so well and are all woven perfectly into this story of playing high-stake games in late 19th-century New York City.

The Luxe has totally turned my opinion and restored all my faith in the brilliance of historical fiction (which I have said I’m not a fan of). I absolutely adored this book and thought that its portrayal was not only accurate but vividly real in its descriptions of high society at the end of the 19th century. (The only thing I might point out is that, if you don’t like lots of descriptive language that takes the time to paint every little thing in a room or setting, you might get slightly annoyed with The Luxe, because there is a lot of description!) I for one love these little details so for me they were almost as fun to read as all the tantalizing secrets and scandals, but that’s just my own preference…

If, on the other hand, you like the idea of getting pulled into a 19th century soap opera where everyone is beautiful and no one can be trusted with their dirty secrets and two-faced games, then The Luxe is for you. Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a long time and could NOT put it down. LOVED it and can’t wait to read the sequels!!

LC’s Rating:
The Luxe is one big indulgent treat that you can’t help but find absolutely delicious!


  1. I'm visiting and following from Book Blogs, I love the way you write! I also love your white rabbits in your heading, I'm a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog in the future!

  2. Hi, I'm following you from book blogs. Great review. I saw this came out a couple years ago, but I hadn't heard of it. I'll have to go check it out. The cover is beautiful!
    Fun blog. I'm happy I found it. :)

  3. Hello! Really nice blog you have here and a great review. The book will probably go up on my to-read list! ;)

    Saw you through Book Blogs and I'm glad I did. I'm a new follower. :)

  4. New follower from Book're not a librarian, you're a writer!!! I love this review :-) You've got a great style...I could learn a few things from following you.

    Keep up the amazing work.

  5. Great review. It sounds like a wonderful book and I LOVE that cover.

    I'm following.

  6. Great review! I've tried to read this book about four times by now, but I can never get into it! I'll just have to give it another try :)

  7. So happy to have you guys following!

    Nikki~ Nice to meet you! Yes, Alice is def one of my favorite classics, and the original John Tenniel illustrations are incredible :)

    Kathy~ You must be busy being a mom and working towards becoming a professor! I would most definitely encourage picking up this book, it was a lot of fun :)

    Bex~ Thank you for following me and for the compliments! My to-read list is gigantic right now, haha, this would be a good add!

    Stacey~ Aww thanks! It's nice to hear people like my writing, since I don't really have a background in it. Glad to have you following :)

    Elizabeth: Isn't that cover to die for?? LOVE it. You have a really beautiful site, and what an ambitious project to write every day!

    Shaylene~ Haha that's funny, I think it's one of those books that starts a little slow-- it took me awhile in the beginning to get used to all the names and the different POVs, but after that I couldn't put it down!

  8. Hi! I am a new follower from BookBlogs. I have been interested in reading this book and I think I have to now for sure! I love the comment about "devouring a giant, heavily-frosted piece of dark-chocolate cake with a big glass of golden, bubbly champagne" Nicely done!
    Check out my blog at

  9. I was unsure of reading this book but after reading your review I feel like I need to go get myself a copy :) I'm not sure if I could make it past the cover page since the cover is so pretty!

  10. your review made me want to read this book! i haven't read it yet and now i definitely want to!

  11. Mindy~ Love the background you have on your blog- my sister and I had a poster of that pink fairy in our bedroom back in high school, they're so pretty :) Glad you enjoyed the review :)

    Vy~ Always good to hear from you! If you've seen Vanity Fair or the Marie Antoinette movie... the scenes and the intrigues are similar to those-- so if you like those kind of fancy historical dramas (like I do!) you will probably love this book too :)

    Yas~ I'm so happy you liked the review :) For me this was just such a refreshing read after the darker dystopian and paranormal romances I've been reading-- I love them too, but it's always nice to have something fun!

  12. I am loving this cover. It is fitting for the discussion with Parajunkee's View wherein we discuss whether we judge a book by its cover. By the looks of this book, it seems to be decadent in content and cover. Nice.
    My Bookshelf

  13. Me again. I am a new follower! :)

  14. "From the witty dialogue to the luxurious descriptions of upper-class life"

    This line in your review caught my attention, had has me putting it on my TBR list.
    Love the covers of this series.
    Thank you for posting this review, Lea.


  15. new follower! I am adding this to my booket list. Also, did you read the mortal instrument series?'


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