Hmmm This is an interesting book It is, as the name implies, very luxe The gown descriptions are sumptuous, and all the characters are gorgeous, with thick curling hair and full pouty lips However, I had a hard time figuring out who to root for, as it were You don't really get deep insights into Elizabeth, ostensibly the heroine, and her handsome lover's thoughts are never known at all The villainess bitchy girl, the little sister, the rich cad, all getdetailed character development, but I had a hard time getting into them as well, because they weren't immediately likable By the end, I had some definite favorites, and I am excited to read the sequel and find out what happens to everybody, but it wasn't until the last chapter that I really started to care about the characters Nonetheless, it's a definite pageturner From the first chapter I couldn't put it down, waiting to see if my suspicions (it starts out with a funeral and then goes back to the month leading up to the tragic death) were correct. So I'd be lying if I said I was oozing with excitement to read this book In fact, I put off reading it for just about a year A really good friend of mine recommended me this book and told me I'd absolutely love it but when I bought the book, I let it gather dust in the corner of my bookshelf There are two reasons why I put off reading this for so long: One, because its a Historical Romance I cannot even begin to tell people how much I HATE (okay, hate is a strong word, but seriously, I don't like them) Historical Romances I don't know what it is about Historical books but for whatever reason, I can't get into them I tried reading Entwined and that was a bust I tried reading Soulless and that was a dnf Its mainly the time period, the way of life, and the characters that puts me off and no matter how hard I try, I can't get sucked in The second reason is that this book is in the third person When I read books in third person, I hardly ever give them five stars, no matter how well written because as I've said before, I want to make a connection to the characters I understand that this is difficult to do, especially when a writer wants to incorporatethan one voice in the novel but at the same time, I feel almost shut off from everyone.So then finally, one year later, I picked this book up because the book I wanted to buy wasn't coming out until Saturday, I didn't feel like reading anything else, and I had only a minute to choose a book before I had to leave.And, oh my god yeek I loved this book! I don't know how to explain it but I did! I fell in love with a historical romance third person book! Who would have thunk it? I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this book.At first, the beginning started off a little slow but then things began to pick up speed ergo the snowball effect My heart simply burst for Elizabeth I can completely relate to her when she thought about how trapped she felt in her life, especially since her mother was forcing her into marriage but then when she admitted she was in love with Will, her glorious sexy coachman, I think I died Although Elizabeth would be characteristically described as fake, I applaud her Because despite her wishes, she wanted to do what was best for her family but in the end, she decided to do what was best for herself And she really truly loved Will Even though we unfortunately didn't get to see much of him in this book, their love was innocent and true, something I have not seen in a long time Elizabeth Will = 3Then there's Diana, Elizabeth's feisty little sister God was she a beaut She's the girl that most teenagers become when they try to find themselves I really have nothing bad to say about her because she was so true and real to herself, yet completely opposite of Elizabeth Usually when it comes to siblings, I prefer one over the other, but both girls were great to read about and I am glad that Diana did not resent her sister in the end Enter Henry, playboy/bachelor extraordinare When I first read about him, god I couldn't stand him He was arrogant, annoying, and frankly, a man slut He was also macking it up with Penelope who didn't seem to mind in the least and in a way, I'm glad his father wanted him to straighten out, although his father did it forselfish reasons instead of fatherly concern Then there was a change in Henry, something gradual, yet sudden, small, yet monumental, and so so beautiful Watching him fall in love with (view spoiler)[ Diana was the greatest thing And I loved how she made him feel like crap at first She really showed him how much of an ass he was but he still loved her and she loved him Their circumstances however were completely unfair (hide spoiler)] PRETTY GIRLS IN PRETTY DRESSES, PARTYING UNTIL DAWNIRRESISTIBLE BOYS WITH SLY SMILES AND DANGEROUS INTENTIONSWHITE LIES, DARK SECRETS, AND SCANDALOUS HOOKUPSTHIS IS MANHATTAN, Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan's social scene But when the girls discover their family's status is far from secure, suddenly everyone is a threat to their golden future Set in a world of luxury and deception, this thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent That dress That dress! How can this not be a fun romantic read? And so I dived into 1899 New York City high society, with its whirl of dances and social calls and hidden agendas And came to a stuttering halt very quickly.I can do shallow and superficial for a hundred pages or so (Exhibit A: The Bookshop on the Corner), but over 400 pages* of banal gossip and backstabbing and jostling for social position? Ugh Even the secret romances weren't very interesting I was ready to slit my wrists after a few chapters.Lesson learned: Don't get sucked in by lovely cover art.*Not to mention that you have to read the three sequels to get the whole story, which, judging from the reviews of book #4 that I've read, doesn't end particularly well and has justifiably made a lot of readers very unhappy and angry Glad I passed. Sorry, but I can't go on reading this drivel Maybe I am too spoiled by Edith Wharton and know too much about Gilded Age s to enjoy this book I know that young men and women of that time simply do not behave, talk, or live the way Godbersen portrays in her books If you take the historical setting out of the story, what's left is a whowillhookupwithwho kind of trash If I ever want to read that, I'll pick up Gossip Girls Beautiful cover though With glitz, glamour and secrets galore, The Luxe is like Gossip Girl set in 1899 New York When reputations are at stake and secrets become a currency, friends turn on friends and no one is safe We begin the story with an end of one The funeral of miss Elizabeth Holland, a tragic and unexpected death of one of society’s most loved The next chapter, we see Elizabeth, before her death I loved this element, as we knew she died but not how, why or by who This intrigue was what initially gripped me Who killed her? But I soon found out the story was less focused on the mystery andon the drama and who will kiss who The book alternates perspectives through a few key players in Elizabeth’s life Henry Schoonmaker the fiancé, Diana Holland the sister, Lina Broud the maid and Penelope Hayes the best friend This was very character driven, but none of the characters were likeable Elizabeth was so perfect, prim and proper that it was irritating She felt fake and selfish to me, and behind the perfect manners, she didn't care about anyone other than herself Diana from her very first page radiated some serious not like other girls energy  “all the other girls Diana's age were conformists at heart and seemed to have dressed up as themselves, only withpowder and artificially narrowed waists”Lina was the household maid, but dreamed of bigger things She felt very selfish and juvenile to me, and never thought of the consequences of her actions Henry was alright, but was the archetype of a rich, aloof playboy Penelope was who I initially hated the most, but that was because she was written was such a purposeful intent for us the hate her She knew what she wanted, and was prepared to do whatever she must to get it She was resourceful, cunning and ambitious A true slitherin queen Upon reflection, she may the character I hated the least When I say this felt exactly like gossip girl I mean exactly like gossip girl Take this with a grain of salt, because I have never read the books and only watched about half of the first season of the show but to me, these characters were scarily similar:Elizabeth= Serena Penelope= Blair Will= Dan Buck= Chuck Henry= Nate I was actually pleasantly surprised with the writing and worldbuilding While I am under no illusions that it is perfectly researched and historically accurate in terms of dialogue or general conduct it served its purpose of transporting me to the time with its descriptions of fine gowns, lavish balls and court like intrigue My main gripe with this book is the ending After the intrigue and buildup from the very first page, it felt cheesy and anti climatic Overall, this was nothing spectacular, but enjoyable in the way CW shows, twilight, or things of that vein are enjoyable I would recommend it if you are looking for a mindless few hours of reading with pretty girls wearing pretty dresses and backstabbing each other, but otherwise, maybe give this one a miss. It's September 1899 and the Manhattan season is starting off with a bang Elizabeth Holland, the darling of the high society set, has returned from her year in Paris in time for the first ball of the season, held at her best friend Penelope Hayes' newly finished and incredibly vulgar mansion Penelope is all about showing herself to the best advantage, and has her sights set on young rake Henry Schoonmaker but his father has other ideas Intending to run for mayor the following year, he wants his only son to shape up and marry a good girl from a good family: Elizabeth The day after the ball, he proposes to Elizabeth and is accepted (even though her heart belongs to the young coachman, Will, whom her maid, Lina, also loves), because Henry's family has money and the Holland family now has none which no one know about except them You have to keep up appearances, after all This is the day he also meets Elizabeth's younger sister, Diana, and there's something about her that captivates him like no other girl ever has It's a tangled mess and it's about to get a whole lot messier as Penelope schemes to break up the engagement.Okay, I'll admit that despite being rather antigirly, I've always had a thing for dresses and period costumes, and the big poofy thing on the cover certainly fascinated me But it also repelled me: it's just so HUGE and PINK and PUFFY! The descriptions of this novel/series that I came across said it was like Gossip Girls and that it was about New York High Society girls at the turn of the century well it all put me off Until a friend recommended it, and I'm glad she did, for as ridiculous as the dress is, the book is really very good.I don't watch Gossip Girls, so I can't speak to any similarities there what I was reminded of, though, was Edith Wharton's The Buccaneers Admittedly, I have read very few books set in 19th century Manhattan, so Wharton's book was the only one I could think of, mostly because it's about four girls from new money making their way in the world amongst the British upper class I highly recommend it, or the TV miniseries based on it.Anyway, I completely expected to be utterly bored by this book, but instead I was vastly entertained and gripped by the unfolding mystery and tension, and even though the prologue tells you the ending, it doesn't tell you anything, and you're never sure what's going to happen next or how it all worked out I did suspect from the very beginning the truth about Elizabeth, though.There was plenty to love and enjoy here, despite the somewhat clichéd characters The setting is vividly brought to life, though I would imagine some people wouldn't care for the little asides about dress fabrics and ormulu (giltbronze) inlaid chairs, but to me it added some necessary and authentic detail, as well as showing (without actually telling) the disparity between classes and breeding: the gaudy overthetop grandeur of the Hayes' new mansion; the stately but stuffy Schoonmaker home; and the refined, oldworld elegance of the Hollands' all highlighting the stillpervasive class clash between old money and new, inherited from the British The period is also supported by little clippings from newspapers, journals and those books on the proper deportment of a lady at the beginnings of the chapters, which help remind you of the world outside and surrounding these preoccupied young women, and how everyone is watching them There is some thought given to class consciousness, the social expectations, pretensions and manoeuvring of the rich, but I was pleased to see it didn't suffer from too much presentism It was also good to have one of the protagonists be a lady's maid who ends up on the street you get to see the less glamorous,hardworking trade side of the city.Of the four protagonists: Elizabeth, Diana, Penelope and Lina, I liked Diana the most Probably because she was the most honest, direct and least girly, she had spunk and flair and was the least superficial Elizabeth was handled well: a goodygoody, demure and seemingly innocent girl in public, sharp and uncomfortable with her maid Lina in private, and relaxed and true to herself with Will a realistic portrait of how most of us present different sides to different people, sometimes what is expected of us, or what creates armour for us, or what enables us to get along with people the best Elizabeth wasn't all that likeable because she didn't stand up for herself as much as you'd want, but she was definitely sympathetic.The bitch of the book is Penelope, of course and she's marvellous at it She's the character you love to hate She's the most straightforward of all the characters, and spiteful, and duplicitous, and you have to admire her tenacity.Godbersen's prose helps lift the novel above the usual fare it's nothing fancy, but it is solid, capable, unpretentious, and confident I thought it started a little slowly, but once I became interested in the characters the pacing really picked up and held me The author doesn't have any annoying ticks or overused favourite words, so it flows well and smoothly For a debut novel, it is remarkably polished, free of typos and other poor editing glitches (though I doubt gotten is as old as 1899) There are four books in the series: The Luxe, Rumors, Envy and Splendor I had to look up what Luxe means because I had no idea: it's a noun meaning luxury or abundance Fitting. I hate, hate, HATE books that are suppose to be set in one time period but they have the behavor of someone in a different time period If I didn't know better, I would have thought that this books was set in the present time I won't ruin it for anyone who wants to read it but I was disappointed I thought How could such a pretty book not be good? I always thought that not judging a book by its cover was about ugly books being good, but now I know better However, if you like mindless stories, and don't care about historical accuracy, this will be a great book for you Disclaimer: I was almost a history major in college, so I tend to take history very seriously I understand not everyone is this way. The Luxe is about turn of the century New York socialites falling in love and misbehaving New York's darling debutant, Elizabeth Holland is poised to marry one of the most eligible (and debaucherous) bachelors in the city, but her perfect life is not what it seems The Luxe reads like Gossip Girl meets Edith Wharton Sadly, it has all of the shallowness and poor writing of the former, with little of the intelligence and power of the latter For realsies Read the rest of my thoughts on The Luxe HERE. The Holland sisters, Elizabeth and Diana, are at the top of the social ladder When their father dies, the girls move away to get educated about being a proper lady and when they come back, they find out that things don’t look too good for the Holland family They’re broke But if Mrs Holland has anything to say about it, they won’t be, not for long If Elizabeth can marry Henry Schoonmaker—a man who’s so handsome he has the hearts of all eligible females—their family name won’t be smeared But Elizabeth already has her heart set on Will, who is just a mere stable boy, and Penelope, Liz’s supposed best friend, wants Henry And where’s Diana all this time? Falling in love with Henry, of course Rich girls always get what they want, but there’s just one Henry to go around Plenty of reviews I’ve read had it labeled as a cross between Pride Prejudice and Gossip Girl I think not The concept about rich girls leading scandalous lives in Manhattan, though set in 1899 for The Luxe, and how marriage was just beneficial for status upholding, is the same Everything else, not really I think this is even worse than Gossip Girl Just like I didn’t see the point in the latter, I failed to see this book as none other than a boring read with underdeveloped characters who basically whine and never take control Take Elizabeth, for instance Right from the beginning she’s introduced as this beautiful and proper young lady who’s involved with a servant but is engaged to the most setforth bachelor, Henry The parts written about her fall bland shortly after she’s engaged She does absolutely nothing except to look blank and regretful I find it very hard to reach some level of sympathy for a character that’s mostly just a background face because the author failed to incorporate some kind of human being qualities to her It’s like this: Anna Godbersen wanted to portray a perfect girl that didn’t have a perfect life after all (the most common storyline ever beside the lovehate relationships type) and rather than making Elizabeth her main character, she made her into a depressed girl Everything that happens in the novel surrounds Elizabeth’s life and her actions, but I just don’t see her as a focus Sure, she finally finds the strength to do something towards the end of the book, but that’s because Penelope was there to help her Can’t she do anything by herself? She’s just a horrible protagonist and if that’s the message—get your own independence—then the author’s done a poor job of relaying that Take notice that this book has 433 pages 433 pages of slow action and mindless characters that just appear and disappear so they can serve in certain parts of the story A story isn’t supposed to be like that—everything has to connect somehow And the most unflattering character is Diana From the start, I never saw that kind of bond between her and Elizabeth that’s made Diana so sobby at the last minute She’s been portrayed as this whinny, kind of unusual sister But later, she does all sorts of things that contradict the personality she’s been given, which I find very inconsistent If there’s character development involved, there has to be a turning point for that to happen, but I didn’t see it All in all, not something I would ever pick up again I thought GG had been a reminder that I should stay away from stories about rich girls with nothing to do but have sex and steal other people’s boyfriends I like books with some kind of message, with development, with strongwilled protagonists that makes everything better, but I found nothing of the requirements here I’m just glad I gave up halfway but decided to read the ending chapters anyway Two words: so predictable But if you actually like the endless, unrealistic love triangles (why would anyone like Henry, anyway? He’s such an arrogant ass) between ElizabethWillLina and DianaHenryPenelope, or the fact that the girls wear gowns and everyone rides horses, then this probably is the book for you I mean, at least some of the history was nailed pretty accurately, thought most facts were just mentioned in passing.