With the tagline: White Lies. Dark Secrets. Scandalous Hook-ups. you know The Luxe is going to be one of those guilty pleasure books.
There's four main girls and two main boys in a, hmm, you can't really call it a love triangle, because it's much more tangled up and complicated than that...
- two are sisters: beautiful, elite and rich - secretly on the brink of poverty. Elizabeth is in a secret affair and Diana's kissing someone she shouldn't be...
- another is a best friend, gorgeous and flirtatious and scheming. (Penelope)
- and the fourth is a maid, watching on and seeing more than she should. (Lina)
- one an utterly gorgeous player, a wealthy bachelor with a rowdy reputation. (Henry)
- the other, a stable boy who heats things up in the barn. Quite nicely. (Will)
Mix it all up with a high profile engagement, family secrets and forbidden affairs and you have a glamourous and deliciously compelling read.
The strength in this book is in the story-telling. It's told from multiple points of view so it took a little while to set the scene. But once you settle in (for me - it was the 50 page mark) the pages just fly by. Godbersen knows how to plot and throws in twists and revelations, hints and secrets in a such a timely way that you're constantly tempted to keep reading the next chapter.
At it's core it's a story of forbidden love, temptation, family duty verse desire. Expect scheming and betrayals and flirting and broken hearts. Despite some sexy shenanigans, it's very PG and told in a fun and glittering manner.
It's a socialite, glitzy novel set in a historical era rather than historical fiction that explores a historical period. There's no social commentary or wider scope of the world at the turn of the 20th century, it's not a period study. But you can expect New York High Society balls and fashion and gowns and girls who are chasing dashing boys despite the rules of etiquette and decorum. (And the boys are chasing them back). These girls like breaking the rules and living a little bit dangerously.
It feels like Godbersen is more than comfortable writing in this era, her language and narration all add to the tone of period.
For all the fun in the pages, it's not a character driven novel. Godbersen is weaving a story of high drama and taking us along for the ride. Characters motivations remain easy to understand, but are not explored in depth. I didn't overly care for any of the characters - I cared more about the actual story. It's not a book designed to linger, but to give readers a good time while reading it.
A few discussion-y thoughts:
I loved all the little letters and newpapers articles and invitations that were scattered throughout the pages.
I really didn't dig the prologue. Not only did it overwhelm me (I felt like I had to concentrate with so many new characters filling the scene at once) but it also, for me, took some of the oomph out of the climax/resolution. I read it twice and it still didn't grab me into the book.
haha, this picture amuses me
and suits Henry from the book as well
anyone else watch the Tudors?
My favourite girl is Diana - she's a spunk, feisty, fun and a bit of a dreamer and not so overwrought as a few of the others :)
The Luxe is a New York Times Bestselling novel which is available now
Recommended: Perfect for a rainy day indulgent read, anyone who loves a bit of soapie scandal will devour this book. The best thing is - all four books in the series are out, so no excruciating waiting between book releases (the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger...)
I liked it. I read it in two indulgent days. But didn't quite love it :)
(If we're talking ratings, I'm giving it 3 stars)
More stuff to check out
The Luxe Website
Read an Excerpt
Read the Prologue
More about Elizabeth (who is the girl on the cover)
The Luxe @Penguin Australia
Thank you to Penguin Australia for sending me this review copy