Sunday, March 14, 2010

Luxuries: Take One

The Luxe

Written by: Anna Godbersen

Released: May 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers,

From the Publisher: 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 Holland’s 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.

I have to say, that I greatly enjoyed reading this book. I can understand where other people might not have – the “historical” part of it is a little off from what it really would have been – but that didn’t bother me in the slightest. After all, this is meant to be a light read for me and not something that would change my entire life. When it comes down to it, the book is basically just Gossip Girl minus about 100 years. And I liked Gossip Girl when it first came out… I also watch the show whenever I can.

Something that really intrigued me, I guess what really enticed me into reading the book in the first place, was that it started with Elizabeth’s funeral and I really wanted to know then what happened. Books that start a little ahead and then play catch up are always a great lure for me.
The characters did, at times, leave you wanting more from them, but they filled in the classical stereotypes which they were meant to portray quite well. I liked how Elizabeth, the main protagonist, wasn’t as perfect as she outwardly appeared and how she battled with her inner desires to do what was right by her family. I liked how Diana, for all of her rebellion, just wanted to be really loved by someone for herself and not just for her name or who her sister was. I felt sadness for Will, wanting him to get his love, and I wanted to just shoot Penelope for being such an evil, snarky bitch. Yes, at times the characters were simplistic and one dimensional, but for a nice, easy, fun read I think that I can overlook that bit about it. Besides, I think that was the whole point to begin with, especially since this is just the first book in the series.

The plot itself was simplistic but with the writing style coming from the different view points of the many different characters, it made it so that it was elaborated and explored fully. The story wouldn’t have been the same if it had just been from Elizabeth’s perspective throughout the entire book. So many little details would have been lost and it wouldn’t have had the same effect in the end.

I give this book an 8/10 and I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series.

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