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