The Luxe

by Anna Godbersen

Hardcover, 2007





HarperCollins (2007), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 448 pages


In Manhattan in 1899, five teens of different social classes lead dangerously scandalous lives, despite the strict rules of society and the best-laid plans of parents and others.


Original publication date


Physical description

448 p.; 8.52 inches

Media reviews

A delicious new twist along the Gossip Girl vein, readers will clamor for this sharp, smart drama of friends, lovers, lies and betrayal.
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Publishers Weekly
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:

User reviews

LibraryThing member jasmyn9
This review was a long time coming. I just couldn't make my mind up about the book. I kept changing my mind as to whether or not is was even worth reading or not.

The Luxe follows the Holland sisters, Elizabeth (which I didn't enjoy) and Diana (which I absolutely loved), as they discover that their
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lives will not be continuing in the way they have enjoyed for most of their life. Both girls are put in a position of family before self and while outwardly they react similarly, their inner thoughts are quite different.

I've decided that "most" of it was worth reading. The characters were what was throwing me off at first. They are split about 50/50 between well written, dynamic people, and static, boring words that make up a person. The characters that drew me in were what kept me reading the book, and what also made me put the second in the series on my Christmas list to see if the remaining characters get any better (I'm a sucker for second chances).

The plot had a somewhat predictable path, but the story was very fitting for the time period it depicted, and moved along at a nice pace that kept the story moving forward (at least when it was focused on one of the characters I liked).

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LibraryThing member Goldengrove
I found this a very silly book. I wouldn't have picked it up if it were not for my pledge to read everything listed in the Reading Passport (see thread in 75 book challenge group). Having said that, the characterisation was just good enough for me to be curious about what happens in the next book.
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It begins with the funeral of an 18 year old society beauty, on what should have been her wedding day in 1899. We then go back a few months to learn about the events that lead to her tragic end.
The characters are engaging, but the milieu seems merely an excuse for idle rich women, corsets, lace and attractive stable hands. Quite apart from the different moral codes of the day, no woman at the turn of the 20th century could risk so much indiscreet carrying on for the fear of exposure, callumny and pregnancy - the girls in this book have obviously never heard of the idea of carnal immorality, and are all conveniently infertile.
The chapters start with little snippets of letters and newspaper cuttings (from the gossip columns, obviously) and this is a nice touch, but the author could have made more of an effort with the tone and language - they do not ring true. Not a book for lovers of historical fiction - the 'historical' aspect is purely a device for gathering the glamour of the past.
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LibraryThing member generalkala
I don't think I've ever been quite so irritated by a book.

It's very easy to read and the descriptions of various gowns and balls are beautiful. The narrative switches to different POV's flawlessly... and yet I really had to force myself to finish this book.

It's a story of unlikeable people whining
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about their own trivial problems. That's all this book is - a book of whining. I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters, nor who was sneaking around with whom.

The writing is good, but the characters are not.
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LibraryThing member BookRatMisty
I would maybe go as high as a 2.5 for this, but really no higher (sorry Ashley and Jenn).
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)
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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. Godbersen does her best to make the time period interesting and appealing to today's teen girl audience, but the result is predictable, flat and strange. It really is as if the GGs had put on costumes and were playing at The Age Of Innocence: their actions and dialogue is not well-suited to the time or the story. This isn't to say that they can't be scandalous; I don't buy into a white-washed history. I know people always have skeletons in their closets, regardless of the mores of the time. More so, even, in a repressive society. Wharton demonstrated that expertly. But the actions of the characters in this book seem too careless and intentionally shocking, and as such seems silly. It's hard as well to feel for the characters. They have very few redeeming qualities, and I was torn between wanting them to have the happy ending that was (obviously-parading-as-stealthily) coming and seeing them get what they actually deserved.
The structuring was a bit weird for me as well, especially when it came to conversations between the characters. One character would say something, and then Godbersen would spend a whole nice-sized paragraph describing something (the rich scene, someone's dress, some incident from the past, whatever), and then the character who was spoken to would respond. By that point, I was completely out of the flow of conversation and had no idea what had been said in the first place and had to look back to follow the thread of dialogue. It was a strange choice on her part and her editor's. And though some description of finery and scene were necessary, they were a bit overdone and tended to overwhelm the story (or maybe mask a lack of it); if I had had to read about 'pocket doors' one more effing time, I may have had a fit of hysterics like some of the characters were prone to.
This is not to say that teen girls won't find this book just heart-flutteringly terrific. If Godbersen set out to write a soap opera dressed up as historical literature, she succeeded at that, and there is a market for it. For me though, it's a shame it didn't live up to its pretty cover.
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LibraryThing member eljabo
This book is exactly like Gossip Girl (I've only seen the tv show) set in the olden days.

It would have been my dream book when I was a teenager. I wasted all my youth with a series of young adult teen historical romances with titles like "Gabrielle" and "Danielle." I'd read the entire book waiting
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for the heroine to get kissed by her hot historical honey. And it would only be a peck!

This book was smutty - characters were sleeping with stable boys, back-stabbing, drinking themselves into oblivion. I loved it! It was a rockin' good time. Yes, I guessed the ending within the first 20 pages, but it was still fun to read. I can't wait to read the next one!
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LibraryThing member epbee
Even though it looks to be a hefty book, I found it a quick read, mostly because it was a bit addicting, the characters were interesting, no real deep characterization here the characters often represent one thing... though I liked seeing Elizabeth through other people's eyes, and then through her
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own everyone thought she was perfect, or bland and really she was forcing herself to be perfect. There is nothing really new here, the themes of keeping up appearances, What is friendship, social/family pressures, not judging people, being true to yourself...add in back stabbing "friends", an outsider looking in, unrequited love, falling for someone not in the same social class...and mix it all together with pretty dresses, Hey I like pretty dresses. So again, like the other posts mentioned if you are a gossip girl fan this book will be right up your alley. I found it an entertaining way to spend my evening.
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LibraryThing member bookgal123
This was an enjoyable read, but I had to take off 1/2 a star because it was so incredibly predictable. I could guess almost the entire plot less than 20 pages in. That being said, I did still read it until the end, and I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys books about the upper-crust--this
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turn-of-the-last-century story reads like Gossip Girl... only better.
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LibraryThing member km3scott
Growing up in late nineteenth century New York society can be difficult. Since her father's death, Elizabeth is under pressure to marry well-the family is in a dire financial situation. Elizabeth should marry Henry-a very good catch. But she loves the stable boy. Penelope loves Henry, but his
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father wants him to marry Elizabeth. Elizabeth's sister really likes Henry, and he really likes her. Sounds like a soap opera? It is, in some ways. But I really enjoyed this book.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
Oh the intrigue!

I got completely caught up in this luscious novel of scandal and love triangles set in 1899 New York. The book opens with the funeral of Miss Elizabeth Holland, New York's darling, pure young lady. So sad for her life to have been cut short, and the funeral being held on the very
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day she was supposed to marry the dashing Henry Schoonmaker... well, it's tragic indeed...

But as the novel unfolds we learn the events of the fortnight leading up to the funeral... When it comes to relationships between the characters, there is more than meets the eye.

Although the ending was predictable, I still really enjoyed getting caught up in the characters' lives. The point of view switches frequently, so we see what Elizabeth, Henry, and a host of other characters are thinking. On the jacket flap it says that Anna Godbersen is at work on a sequel. I, for one, can't wait.

Gossip Girls set in Victorian NYC... this will definitely please fans of the drama, and all the sex occurs off-stage (though boozing and smoking abound).
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LibraryThing member bellalibrarian
Godbersen has done such a great job with this! She has taken the story lines that we have come to love from some of our other easy reading, YA novels; but she has added a wonderful historical element that I really appreciate. While the plot is a bit predictable, that really doesn't matter to me.
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The characters are nicely developed, and the story line is full of delicious scandals!
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LibraryThing member parkridgeya
Set before the turn of the century (the 20th not the 21st), The Luxe tells the tale of Elizabeth and Diana Holland, two sisters making their way through the height of society in New York. But secrets brew beneath the seemingly perfect world. The story opens with a funeral, Elizabeth’s in fact,
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and then proceeds to travel back in time as we learn of what transpired. There is of course gossip, intrigue, fabulous parties, back stabbing and love. We meet Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth’s best friend, who is in love with Elizabeth’s fiance. Lina Broud, the surly maid who resents Elizabeth’s fortune and luck. Then we have the two sisiters: Elizabeth is the perfect one while Diana strains against the confines of the world she lives in. But all is not as it seems and soon forces will come to ahead and lives will be irrevocably changed. While definitely written from a modern perspective, Godbersen evokes the era of days long past. Many are comparing it to Gossip Girls or the Clique series, but I think it rises above those and will become a story that will stick around for some time
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LibraryThing member dfullmer
A very enjoyable historical fiction story set in Regency England. A Regency romance, but very well done. Looking forward to the sequel.
LibraryThing member 4sarad
This is sort of a guilty pleasure. What girl wouldn't love to read about secret relationships, expensive gowns, big parties, and horrible gossip and backstabbing? I really enjoyed it and will definitely pick up the sequel.
LibraryThing member FeegleFan
It's easy to see that this book is written by an amateur author, but Anna Godbersen shows promise for improvement - that is, if she can get herself out of the horror known as "Regency Soap-Operas."
LibraryThing member stephxsu
If you can’t get enough of Gossip Girl, here’s something perfect for you: Anna Godbersen’s new trashy series, THE LUXE, set in turn-of-the-century New York. The world is poised on the break of a modern revolution, but within the old and powerful families of New York, tradition and appearances
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always come first. Love is thrown aside in favor of money and the security of social status. This is the kind of world that perfect 18-year-old Elizabeth Holland and her peers inhabit.

Elizabeth’s family, once a well respected moneyed family, has fallen into debt after the death of her father. Desperate to keep up appearances, Mrs. Holland forces her into a hastily arranged marriage with the equally unwilling Henry Schoonmaker, the troublesome, ever-partying hottest bachelor in New York. However, Henry secretly carries a flame for Elizabeth’s younger sister, Diana, the rebel. And even more unknown is that Elizabeth is in love with Will Keller, the Hollands’ coachman. Will plans to go West, and urges Elizabeth to abandon her family and the lifestyle she has always known to join him.

Add to that the fact that Lina Broud, Elizabeth’s childhood friend turned ladies’ maid, is in love with Will herself and therefore hates Elizabeth. Her sentiments are shared by Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth’s social-climbing pseudo-best friend, who is beyond furious that Elizabeth seems to have stolen her crush, Henry, from her. With so many people hating her, it should be no surprise that Elizabeth’s life is in danger…Yikes!

While I didn’t think that THE LUXE was as well written as similar, more popular series, such as Gossip Girl or The A-List, it is perfectly satisfactory as fast, light reading. THE LUXE never pretends to be more than it is—a delicious imitation of Gossip Girl—and you have to admire it for that.
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LibraryThing member spaz2011
The story-line was good although, I couldnt keep up with it too much, I often got bored while reading
LibraryThing member Roylin
This was a great story that looks into the lives of upper crust New York teens at the turn of the century. You see that the more things change...the more they stay the same. Love, rumor and scandal never gets old. Good and fun read. To describe this to someone I stated it was like Gossip Girl, but
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at the turn of the Century
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LibraryThing member koalatees
The Luxe tells the story of five teenagers in Manhattan in 1899. Elizabeth Holland and younger sister Diana Holland are completely different. While Elizabeth is proper, Diana is rebellious. However, Elizabeth has a dark secret. Henry is the most wanted bachelor of Manhattan. Elizabeth’s “best
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friend,” Penelope Hayes, is jealous of Elizabeth. Then there is Lina Broud, Elizabeth’s servant. Lina dreams of being a society girl herself. Due to family issues, Elizabeth must marry the gorgeous Henry Schoonmaker who she has no desire to wed. Things get more complicated when Elizabeth learns that Penelope is in love with him. However, Henry is in love with an entirely different girl…

Honestly, I was not sure if I would enjoy this book. I usually do not read Gossip Girl-esque books. They just don’t seem like something I would like. I decided to give The Luxe a chance because I heard so many good things about the series and my friend wanted to see if it was a book I thought she would like. Most importantly, I absolutely love the pretty dresses on the cover. heh. ;)

Overall, I liked The Luxe. Hands down, my favorite characters were Diana Holland and Henry Schoonmaker. Together, they saved the novel from being unenjoyable. I loved Diana’s rebellious streak. It made her interesting. Lina and Penelope just seemed desperate to me, and that was a big turn-off. Elizabeth was an okay character. While I know Godbersen purposely chose not to make Elizabeth too exciting (that was Diana’s part), Elizabeth was just too boring. Even her secret could not compensate for the rest of her boringness.

Now let me just talk about the romantic Henry Schoonmaker. I was definitely head-over-heels for him. I mean, just look at his last name. Schoonmaker. It almost looks like Swoonmaker. I can’t wait to read more about him in the series.
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LibraryThing member simplykatie
this book has been (surprisingly by my community's normal reading habits) flying off the shelf and i picked it up at the store to find out what it's all about. 1899 manhattan: gossip girl style. i'm getting the sequel immediately. that about sums it up and i can't wait to add it to my read-a-likes
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list at the library.
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LibraryThing member Ningram
I really wanted to like this book more. I love the descriptions of the balls and outfits. Godbersen did a great job in describing the 19th Century time of high society. All in all I think the teenagers will love the book.
LibraryThing member ewyatt
Elizabeth has just returned from a stint in Paris and is ready to enjoy the season in high society in New York. However, she finds that her family's financial ruin means that she'll be pressured to be married. This book is full of loads of misunderstandings between people who make assumptions and
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don't really talk to each other. There is lots of romance, intrique, secret longings, and some mean girl behavior. I'm excited to find out what happens to the Holland sisters in the next installments of the series.
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LibraryThing member RGQuimby
This should have been a lot more fun than it actually was. While the both the girls and the dresses are as gorgeous as they are rich, I just couldn't get into this one. The characters are wooden, but not in that delightful "Gossip Girl" way. The problem is that this book seems to take itself way
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too seriously, so the lack of interest in the plot (dishy though it is) just doesn't stand up to scrutiny. It's also really annoying how Diana comments multiple times how "annoyed" she is that she even has to LOOK at poor people. The only character that the reader might occasionally root for is Lina, the lady's maid, who is presented as bitter and villainous while the rich girls hurt people with impunity and the reader is SUPPOSED to like them. It's too bad that this book was so annoying. It's not even fun.
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LibraryThing member insertbooktitle
This is a really well written book. The ending is a little obvious, but the characters are so real that you'll almost forget that your reading fiction. Elizabeth has always been the lady of New York; She has the manners, the looks, and the behavior of the ultimate lady. However she had one huge
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secret...she was in love with the help. But her family had fallen on hard times, and she must marry a man she doesn't even like. How will she ever chose between her family and a life of her own happiness?
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LibraryThing member roseysweetpea
Set in the 19th century, this book follows the life of Elizabeth Holland and her desperate desire to please everyone and still please herself. Between the demands placed upon her by family and friends, attaining the one thing she has ever wanted seems impossible. While her best friend and younger
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sister are both trying to steal a finance that she doesen't love, she is forced to decide between what she should do and what she wants to do. A good Y/A book and I will definately be reading the next in the series.
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LibraryThing member dasuzuki
First off, I have to say I love the covers of this series and it is what drew me to read the book. I found myself surprised that I actually enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read the next one. I say surprised because when I was about halfway through I didn’t think I wanted to even finish the
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book. The main thing that kept me going was that I hate not finishing a book so I kept reading. I am so glad I did. The second half of the book kept me hooked and now I can’t wait to read the sequel to find out what happens with Diana, Henry and Penelope. I initially thought Diana was a pain in the behind but she redeems herself in the end in my eyes and I do hope she can find happiness. I really hope Penelope gets what is due her and while I can sort of understand Lina’s, Elizabeth’s former lady’s maid, jealous feelings I still dislike her intensely. I’m curious what the future books hold for them as well.
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½ (858 ratings; 3.6)
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