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The Luxe Hardcover – November 20, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 215 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Luxe Novel Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With a quote from The Age of Innocence as an epigraph and an enthusiastic blurb from the creator of Gossip Girl on its back cover, this lavishly produced debut makes no secret of its twin influences. The story opens in 1899 with the funeral of Elizabeth Holland, a well-bred beauty said to have plunged to her death in the Hudson River. The narrative then travels back several weeks, tracing the relationships and events that have led to the somber assembly. This tangled web includes not one but two sets of star-crossed lovers; an upstairs/downstairs romance; a scheming social climber; a bitter servant girl; and oodles of money, all set in a Edith Wharton via Hollywood vision of Old New York. The dialogue has its clunky moments, and the plot twist that drives the tale is telegraphed from the very start, but readers caught up in the fancy dress intrigue are unlikely to mind much: it’s all part of the dishy fun. Needless to say, the ending paves the way for at least one sequel. Ages 14-up. (Dec.)

From Kirkus Reviews

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 fiancé; 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 scene, making for a fun, though not entirely unexpected dénouement. A delicious new twist along the Gossip Girl vein, readers will clamor for this sharp, smart drama of friends, lovers, lies and betrayal. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

  • Series: The Luxe
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1St Edition edition (December 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061345660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061345661
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (215 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Anna Godbersen was born in Berkeley, California and moved to New York to attend Barnard College. After graduating she worked in the literary department of Esquire magazine, where she also wrote book reviews. Her debut novel was the first installment of the bestselling LUXE series for young adults, which she followed with the BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS series. THE BLONDE, to be published by Weinstein in May 2014, is her first book for grownups. She lives in Brooklyn.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The year is 1899. While women and young ladies are supposed to be demure and proper in each and every thing they do; so is not the case for many of those living in New York City. Four young women, to be exact, who are committing different forms of wrongdoing, which would certainly turn heads and cause whispers in upper class society. Things that would leave them shunned. But, as long as no one finds out, I suppose it doesn't really matter. If those secrets are revealed, however, things may not be as...peachy keen as they are now.

Eighteen-year-old, Elizabeth Adora Holland, is the girl every gentleman wants to be with, and all the girls want to be. As far as society goes, Elizabeth is the ideal up-and-comer. She's demure, polite, pure, and breathtakingly beautiful. What society doesn't know about, however, are her late-night trysts with a certain member of her staff. Trysts that seem harmless and loving to Elizabeth and her...admirer; but would turn heads and cast her out of the inner circle in mere moments. When she is betrothed to the most sought-after bachelor in New York City, the world practically stops as wedding preparations begin. Unfortunately, Elizabeth's heart isn't in it, instead, her conscience and her true love take over, causing her to question her impending marriage. But with a horrible secret haunting her family, there is little she can do to save herself from a lifetime of misery, without taking matters into her own hands and doing something drastic.

While Elizabeth is the perfect model of society; her sixteen-year-old sister, Diana, is practically anti-proper manners and living. Diana would rather spend her days reading romance novels, and kissing random boys, than acting proper. She dreams of being a heroine, who is rescued by a dashing gentleman.
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Format: Hardcover
I wanted to love THE LUXE. I really did. And I only liked it.

The book begins at the funeral of Elizabeth Holland, 1899 Manhattan's ideal young lady of the upper class. She presumably drowned in the Hudson; her body has never been recovered. This should make for a really interesting book, exploring her death and the possible causes and how everyone reacts, right? Unfortunately, this book is not about Elizabeth's death but the lives of five teenagers living in upper class Manhattan.

Elizabeth does not want to marry Henry Schoonmaker and he doesn't want to marry her, but neither have a choice. Elizabeth's family is faced with ruin if she doesn't marry; Henry, who is quite a scoundrel, is faced with being disinherited. But Penelope Hayes, daughter of a newly wealthy family, wants Henry for herself and will do anything to get him, and servant Lina Broud, who hates her mistress Elizabeth, might prove dangerous.

The characters are all stereotypical or boring. There's absolutely no thought behind the characters of Penelope, Lina, and Henry. They are exactly what you'd expect to find, and there's nothing about them that makes them stand out. Elizabeth is just dull, and the adults too have very little personality. Only Diana Holland, Elizabeth's rebellious and slightly immature younger sister, shows any potential for developing into a memorable literary character. I will read the second book, but mainly to find out what happens to Diana.

And then the writing...Godbersen tried to make her writing stand out by using vivid words, but honestly in the end her writing just seemed stilted. She seemed to do a lot more telling than showing, and sometimes she added details in places where they disrupted the story. Overall, the writing made what should have been an exciting book hard to get into.

This wasn't a bad book. I did enjoy it, but it's not as good as I was expecting.
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Format: Hardcover
I normally dislike writing negative reviews, but in this case I feel absolutely inspired to. I received this book as an Advanced Readers copy from the Harper Collins First Look program, I am I truly expected to be blown away by what promised to be an excellent historical portrayal of teens at the turn of the nineteenth century. Instead, I felt like the characters in the book had been plucked from some modern day series like the Gossip Girl books. I am sure there are plenty of naughty girls of the upper crust in any time period, but it seemed to me that all the girls were lacking in the basic decorum of the time.

That is not to say the book was on the whole terrible. The descriptions of the lavish way of life certainly inspired me, placing me within the glittering late Victorian world. My main qualm was the characters. To me, they just didn't seem to embody the spirit of the age. I am not a prude, to be sure, as I read things that have sexual depictions, but the casualness of the depicted sex left a bad taste in my mouth. I could not care much for any of the characters because they seemed so bratty and duplicitous with their so-called friends. There wasn't even a good loathing hate that can come from an excellent depiction of a villain, just a dislike for everyone.

Perhaps I should have thought twice about wanting to read a book that talked about the bad girls acting bad and the good girls also acting bad, but I suppose I just wanted the book to be something else. So while I have been a little scathing, there is certainly an audience for this book, if you like the kind of modern melodrama with plenty of sex and betrayal along with a dose of "friendship." And there are beautiful descriptions of the luxury of the times which are quite impressive and vivid. A mixed bag for me, but sure to be a catch for those who like this sort of thing.
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