Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Review: The Luxe

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
Published by Penguin
Young-Adult, Fiction
464 pages
Borrowed from Library

Imagine, if you will, New York City, 1899 . . .

Society's elite: the glamour, the grandeur, the glittering parties, the most handsome beaus, the most beautiful debutantes, the sounds of decadence, the rich girl, the humble boy, the forbidden love, the hushed whispers, the stolen glances, the secret rendezvous, the sin, the scandal, the mystery, the revenge.
You are cordially invited to step into The Luxe, where the secrets are dark and the sins are delicious . . . 
'Dripping with scandal, this book paints a fabulous portrait of American high society at its nastiest (and juiciest)' – Dolly
'Rainy day reading for the ladies' – Gold Coast Bulletin

A book like no other, 'The Luxe' by Anna Godbersen had so many great elements that are hard to find in a novel. The writing style, the characters and the storyline all lived up to the encouraging reviews of this book. 'The Luxe', the first in Godbersen's series was definitely a book that I enjoyed reading and I am really excited to borrow out the next one.

The first thing that really set this novel apart from many other Y.A novels was the historical aspect. Many teenage novels don't tend to cross down the historical genre path and if they do, many of them execute it badly. This is where a lot of the strengths in Godbersen's writing were shown, because unlike many other authors she managed to write accurately without being hard to comprehend. The structure of the novel(with the little excerpts from journals, letters, magazines and books at the start or end of a chapter) also added a huge amount interest to the novel and made it seem juicier.

All of the characters in the novel were likable in someway or another and were believable. I especially liked how the novel was written in third person so as to show the reader more of the story(much like a soapie). It was with the 3rd person storytelling and the juicy excerpts that you could see why people said the book was like a victorian version of  The O.C. The characters really worked well with the dramatic style of writing and proved that some Victorian day era customs and circumstances really don't stray too far from modern day lives. For instance Trophy wives, affairs, blackmail and sabotage all take place in both eras and in some cultures/religions being a virgin on your wedding night is still expected of some women.

The storyline which was very well done in terms of the relations between characters and engaging the reader still lacked a better ending. From the moment in the prologue when the first hint was revealed I started to wonder if what I thought was going to happen would. The predictable ending happened. That's one of the major things that bothered me, because I really wanted some sort of surprise like maybe if the same thing happened for a different reason than what I thought it would?

Other things I disliked were some elements of the cover and some of the holes in the storyline. The cover is great don't get me wrong. The dress is amazing and the little filigree style decoration is really beautiful, but I don't think the dress holds true to the era. In the 19th century people didn't tend to show too much of their shoulders or upper arms. So most dresses would have had short sleeves at least. I think the cover would have looked just as nice if the girl was wearing a square neckline dress with cap-sleeves of a similar design. I also thought the overall flair of the skirt was very overly dramatic, but I guess for a book that would have been okay.

Like I said there were a lot of holes in the storyline. One of the characters seems to disappear at the end and we don't know where she has gone or what has become of her. This might be continued on in the sequel, so if that happens then it's understandable leaving it out. Also there is a bit of sleeping around that happens and I'm amazed at how the girl does not fall pregnant, because as far as I know contraception was a myth during the Victorian era. So that just seemed a bit thoughtless.

My two favourite characters were Diana and Teddy. These might seem a bit of a weird pick because while they were mentioned many times in the novel, they weren't really a big focus. I liked Diana's character because she was adventurous and outlandish, yet sensible at the same time. She would kiss a stranger for a laugh, but wouldn't become "un-pure" in order to fulfill a selfish man's desires even if she loved him. I think that really shows control without losing the capacity to actually "live". Teddy's character wasn't revealed much in this book what we saw of it was gentlemanly and charming like all Victorian-era-men ought to be.

Overall I give this book 4 stars. While the In-accuracy of the cover and the holes in the storyline did bother me, Godbersen's stunning writing style and structure of the novel won me over in the end.

-The Luxe

Other books by Anna Godbersen:
-Bright Young things
-Beautiful days (Bright Young things book 2)
        Set in the roaring twenties

-The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
-Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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