Tag Archives: Anna Godbersen

Book Reviews
January 18, 2011 posted by Christina

Bright Young Things – Anna Godbersen

“The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…

Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia’s brother, Charlie. But Astrid’s perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart.”

If there was ever a book to make you feel glamorous just by reading it, then Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen is it.

Set in New York in 1929 during the last summer of the Roaring 20s, the story follows the trials and tribulations of Letty Larkspur, Astrid Donal and Cordelia Grey. Godbersen wastes no time in hooking our attention by stating in the first three pages that by the end of the summer one girl will be married, one will be a star and one will be dead.

Letty and Cordelia have been friends since they were young while growing up in the small town of Union, Ohio. After years of dreaming about it they finally pack their bags and runaway to the big city – New York. Letty is out to realize her dreams of becoming a star on Broadway, while Cordelia plans to track down her infamous father.

Astrid on the other hand is a born and bred socialite and New York City is her playground. She’s got money, looks and charm…..yet why does it not seem to be enough to curb her darling Charlie’s wondering eye?

As the story flutters from the perspective of one girl to the other we get a quite a fascinating picture of what New York was like for a woman in 1929.

Though Cordelia and Letty come to the city with quite different goals, they have naivety in common. It takes them both quite a while to figure out who to trust and what constitutes as a wise decision (in particular with the people they associate with).

On the other side of the social fence is Astrid. Though at times she may come across as fickle or dramatic – she’s really just jaded by her world and the people in it.

One of the things I liked about this book was that even though it was about three beautiful girls it didn’t come across as shallow, insincere or bitchy, pitting the girls against each other over a man etc. Yes, they each have interests in men (hey, doesn’t every girl?) but they had their own moments where their strength, cleverness and independence were on full display.

The fashion mentioned in this book was to die for and created some truly glamorous scenes for us to visualize – everything from the cover, to Astrid’s glittering collection of gowns, to Letty’s dark bobbed hair made the story feel so much more authentic.

The writing in Bright Young Things is rich, atmospheric and artfully done. You’re vividly transported into the sepia toned memories of the 1920s and the story’s dark glamour really shines through.

Though you may get a sense of what might happen next, what actually takes place as the story unfolds can shock you. Since it’s only the first book in the series, and the beginning of the summer, there are still many questions left unanswered.

After reading Bright Young Things you’ll probably feel a strong urge to start calling people Doll Face and Darling and walk around the house with a feather in your hair (but this is not advised if your family is like mine – odd looks will ensue). If historical fiction isn’t normally your thing, this book is a great starting point, plus, the story will charm your socks off.

Pages: 389
Publication Date: October 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins / Penguin (in AU)
Challenge: Historical Fiction
Rating: : ★★★★½

Teaser Quote: “Well, if you weren’t flirting with him”-his voice had now grown a little plaintive-“who was he, and what did you want with him anyway?”

“If you are so determined to bore me, I may just have to go home.” Astrid sighed carelessly, “What a shame, when I am wearing such a pretty dress.”

Splendor: A Luxe Novel – Anna Godbersen
Book Reviews
November 7, 2009 posted by Nikki

Splendor: A Luxe Novel – Anna Godbersen

As spring turns into summer, Elizabeth relishes her new role as a young wife, while her sister, Diana, searches for adventure abroad. But when a surprising clue about their father’s death comes to light, the Holland girls wonder at what cost a life of splendor comes.

Carolina Broad, society’s newest darling, fans a flame from her past, oblivious to how it might burn her future. Penelope Schoonmaker is finally Manhattan royalty—but when a real prince visits the city, she covets a title that comes with a crown. Her husband, Henry, bravely went to war, only to discover that his father’s rule extends well beyond New York’s shores and that fighting for love may prove a losing battle.

In the dramatic conclusion to the bestselling Luxe series, New York’s most dazzling socialites chase dreams, cling to promises, and tempt fate. As society watches what will become of the city’s oldest families and newest fortunes, one question remains: Will its stars fade away or will they shine ever brighter?

When the young Diana Holland follows Henry Schoonmaker, the love of her life, to war, what are the chances that she’ll actually find him? Diana isn’t concerned with chances, though. The whole world has been stacked against them right from the beginning, and they’ve managed to battle through it all. What’s stopping her this time? No, chances are not important. All that matters is that she finds Henry. She must, she will make sure he knows how she feels, propriety and marital conventions be damned.

Meanwhile, Diana’s sister, the newly married Elizabeth, is settling into life as the new Mrs Cairns. Newly weds are supposed to live out their days in blissed out harmony, shack up on cloud nine, and all that. So why does it feel like there is something missing between Mr and Mrs Cairns? And if we, the readers, can see it, what’s stopping the harsh and unforgiving New York City society from noticing as well?

Speaking of society, New York City’s newest society member, Carolina Broad, has just about reached her all of her goals. All she has ever wanted was money, status, and a man to call her own. With two of those three already checked off the list, there’s only one more thing left for her to chase. Will Lina land her man, or will she continue her days in bitter loneliness?

With Henry off at war, Mrs Penelope Schoonmaker is up to her old tricks. Penelope proves money can’t buy happiness, and it certainly can’t buy love. Not the love of her husband, anyway, so she tries out her charm on a new player in town. Will she get found out, or will anyone even care enough to notice that Mrs Schoonmaker is not making good on her wedding vows? But when does Penelope ever make good on anything she says?

Splendor is an exceptional ending to an exceptional series. Some get what they want, and some don’t. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles in life, so why not in fiction, too? Anna Godbersen’s characters remain true to themselves in every which way, and although the way things unfold may not occur exactly how you might want them to, they certainly happen how they’re supposed to. How could we possibly want anything more than that?

You’ll gasp, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry out in glee. Splendor does not disappoint. Reading this series has been a real pleasure and I can’t wait to see what Godbersen produces in the future.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Rumours Giveaway
May 2, 2009 posted by Nikki

Rumours Giveaway

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia, yaReads has one copy of Rumours by Anna Godbersen to giveaway. Rumours is the second novel in The Luxe series and we here at yaReads think it’s a pretty spesh read. As a bit of a treat to our Australian contingent, this competition is open to Australian and New Zealand residents only.

All you have to do is leave a message after this post (by clicking on the “comment” button) and tell us why you love this series so much. Don’t forget to leave your name and your country of origin (whether you’re OZ or NZ).

Competition is open until May 16. Happy posting!

Envy – Anna Godbersen
Book Reviews
May 2, 2009 posted by Nikki

Envy – Anna Godbersen

Envy is the third instalment in The Luxe series. It picks up right where Rumors left off, with enough scandal to drive even the calmest of readers’ crazy.

Mr Henry Schoonmaker – one of New York’s most eligible bachelors, and the love of Diana Holland’s life – has a new wife, and he’s not one bit happy about it, either. How could he be, when the love of his life is not the woman to whom he is now legally bound? Henry can’t even bring himself to look at Penelope with affection so how is he going to fulfil his physical requirements as a husband? As Henry drinks himself stupid night after night, hoping that the alcohol will numb his senses and dull the pain, Penelope’s scheming ways continue evermore.

Diana Holland – the real love of Henry’s life, and the reason he married Penelope in the first place – is hurting. Although Henry told her that he married Penelope to protect her, that Penelope had threatened to tarnish Diana’s wholesome reputation by telling all of New York that Henry had taken her virginity out of wedlock, seeing him with Penelope all the time is a painful matter indeed. Now that he is no longer in the market for a wife, Diana is doing everything she can to put her feelings for Henry behind her, but love is relentless and he haunts her everywhere she goes. Will she be able to stay away from him, especially when he is asking her not to?

The new Penelope Schoonmaker is watching Henry and Diana with hawke-like eyes. She is no fool and she can see the way the pair of them still look at each other. It makes her sick to the stomach to think of her husband’s eyes searching for someone else in the crowd, but honestly, what did she expect? She bribed him into marrying her in the first place. Penelope knows all too well that the only way she will keep her man is by bribing and manipulating him further. But will Henry put up with it for much longer? If the love of your life was slipping through your fingers, what would you do to be with them?

Elizabeth Holland finds herself in quite the predicament indeed. Mourning the loss of her husband, and former servant, Elizabeth finds herself attracting the attention of a one Mr Teddy Cutting – again. Elizabeth feels alone, in despair. Will she warm to Mr Cutting’s affections this time around? Only time will tell. Elizabeth is honest with Mr Cutting about her feelings for him – that the timing is all wrong and she’s still in mourning. But then something happens, something that will ruin the Holland’s forever if Elizabeth doesn’t find a way to fix it. Being with Mr Cutting suddenly seems like a magnificent idea…

And Carolina Broad is up to her usual tricks. I hate Lina so much that I can’t even bring myself to write anything about her.

Envy delivers the goods. After reading Rumors I wasn’t so sure that Anna Godbersen would be able to top her effort – but I was wrong. She writes brilliantly and reading her work is effortless. Henry’s character is developed further in this instalment and he steps of the pages of Envy like a radiant, shining light. I find myself wondering how much more of Anna Godbersen’s scandalous world I can take. I can’t wait for Splendour (the fourth novel) and I know I’ll re-read Envy obsessively until I get my hands on it.

Praise for Anna Godbersen, who has successfully reignited the 1900’s and made it totally cool to be all proper and old school. I love everything about this series – absolutely everything! This would make one hell of a killer television show.

Rating:: ★★★★★

Rumors: A Luxe Novel – Anna Godbersen
Book Reviews
March 10, 2009 posted by Nikki

Rumors: A Luxe Novel – Anna Godbersen

Rumors is the second installment in The Luxe novels and is every bit as scandalous, juicy, and naughty as the first.

Society in Manhattan, New York City is in mourning for they have just lost their darling girl, Elizabeth Holland. Lizzie’s body never was recovered from the Hudson River and no one seems capable of understanding how a girl drowns in a river without a body turning up. The gossip columns start printing murmurs about her death being a hoax and suddenly the whole city is questioning her whereabouts. Only a very few select people truly know what happened to Lizzie on that ill-fated day, however, and not one of them is breathing a word.

But Lizzie has been corresponding with Diana, her sister, to assure her that she is not dead but that she must keep this news a secret. In her letter, Lizzie gives Diana and Henry her blessing, wishing them well, and warns Diana to keep a keen eye out for Penelope. Unable to keep this glorious news to herself for long, Diana eventually shares her secret with Henry, who responds most excitedly. You see, Henry and Diana are unable to announce their relationship to anyone, as society deems it highly inappropriate for a man in Henry’s position to be cavorting with his supposed dead fiancés sister. But now that Henry knows Lizzie is actually alive, chasing a true love of her own, he wants nothing more than to announce his love for Diana to all of society. But doing so will mean that Elizabeth’s cover will be blown, and Diana isn’t having any of that…

What will become of their forbidden romance, and will Diana and Henry betray family confidences in the hope of finding happiness in each other? You’ll be surprised, my friends, very surprised indeed.

Meanwhile, Penelope catches wind of Henry and Diana’s secret affair and decides that she must put a stop to it before another Holland girl manages to snatch Henry from her greedy fingers. Penelope is more devious than any Gossip Girl character ever created and proves to readers that she is without a doubt, New York’s most evil creature alive. Blair Waldorf could learn a thing or two from this hellspawn. But it’s not Penelope’s devilish plan that floored me – it’s the fact that Henry agreed to go along with it, that he is so blinded by Penelope’s conniving ways that he can’t seem to see through her flawed plan to find an alternative solution. Those rooting for Henry’s happiness will be deeply disturbed by the events which unfold in this instalment. Is there a resolution for Henry, or is he doomed to live his life according to the wishes of others, forever?

If The Luxe was completely unputdownable (as I suggested it was), then Rumors is entirely infuriating – and it’s so, so good. Where The Luxe was a little slow on the uptake, Rumors gets straight into the action, right form the get go. All the passions, the feelings of love and hate that I experienced in the first installment increased threefold during this read. I yelled, I groaned loudly, and I harrumphed constantly as I read.

Godbersen’s words flow effortlessly across the page, allowing a clear and complete picture of each individual scene to play out in my mind. Rumors is an emotive, gripping read that left me with absolutely no fingernails at all.

This is pure teen chick lit in all its glory and I can see this series quickly becoming every teenage girl’s best friend. I can’t wait to get my hands on the third novel.

Rating:: ★★★★★

The Luxe – Anna Godbersen
Book Club Read
March 5, 2009 posted by Nikki

The Luxe – Anna Godbersen

Love a good scandal? Then you’re going to love this. The Luxe is like Jane Austen meets Gossip Girl, and there is not one part of that combination that I don’t adore. Set in the 1900’s, this tale is overflowing with love, betrayal, deceit, and all those other juicy things that made the books we love so perfect. With New York as its backdrop, The Luxe follows the lives of five individuals whose lives are more intertwined than one could possibly imagine.

Elizabeth is the eldest of the Holland daughters and is now of marriageable age. Since her father died, the Holland family has been suffering financial difficulty and Lizzie’s mother thinks its time she married her daughter off to a nice rich family who can provide a life of security and wealth for the Holland’s once more. When her mother arranges for her to be married off to Henry Schoonmaker – the most eligible (and wealthiest) bachelor in all of New York – despair clutches at Elizabeth more than one could possibly imagine. You see, Elizabeth has been having a secret affair with someone else – someone that, if her mother ever found out, she would be forbidden from seeing ever again…

Lina knows Elizabeth’s secret, however. She’s a servant in the Holland household, and Elizabeth’s own personal maid. Lina sees Lizzie sneaking out of Will’s room one night and her heart shatters into a thousand tiny pieces. Lina always wanted Will to herself and is horrified to learn that Lizzie – the perfect girl who has everything – has the one thing in the world she wants more than anything. Lina is a vindictive girl who will stop at nothing to attain her glory, or her man.

Lina is a bit like Penelope in that sense, which is why is it entirely unsurprising that their paths eventually meet. In a moment of fury, Elizabeth fires Lina and within the hour, Lina finds herself homeless. As she’s walking on the sidewalk, Penelope’s carriage trots alongside her and the two get chatting. Lina knows exactly who Penelope is and strikes a deal with the malicious woman in red that can only lead to Elizabeth’s demise. You see, Penelope has it bad for Henry and is horrified to learn of his engagement to her friend, Elizabeth. But with Lina’s help, Penelope orchestrates a plan to put a stop to their engagement and steal the bachelor for herself.

Henry, however, isn’t interested in Penelope in that way. Sure, they’ve had many a night together and they’ve done things that unmarried people simply should not do, but Penelope isn’t the kind of girl he could ever see himself marrying. But neither is Elizabeth. Henry – like Elizabeth – is forced into the arrangement by his parents. Then one day whilst calling on his fiancé, Henry is introduced properly to her sister, Diana, and is immediately taken by her brash persona. She’s beautiful, in an artistic way, and is everything he wants in a woman. Henry embarks on the pursuit of his life – to make Diana fall in love with him.

And she does. Diana is not a flip person and is taken by surprise that her feelings for Henry are so strong. He’s rude, unapologetic and ridiculously over-confident. But she wants him – badly. But he is destined to marry her sister, who is in love with someone else altogether. The whole thing is a bit of a mess and Diana finds herself in the stickiest of situations.

As the lives of New York’s elite become more and more tangled, you’ll be unable to put the book down. Anna Godbersen writes with a beauty so rich it is as if she actually lived in New York during the nineteen century.

Godbersen’s characters are dynamic and successfully incited emotions in me so powerful that I actually had to get up off the couch and pace while I read. I fell in love, learned the true power of what it feels like to hate, and became a complete slave to the pages the further I got into the novel.

Each page oozes with elegance, and like most guilty pleasures in life, is positively addictive. Watch out for the cliffhanger ending, though, as it will leave you breathless beyond your wildest dreams. Thankfully the second novel, Rumours, is in stores as we speak, with the third installment on the way…

Girls everywhere will love this novel. Jane Austen, eat your heart out!

Rating:: ★★★★★

P.S – We’re actually reading The Luxe for our bookclub choice this month. Click here to join the discussion.