Anna Godberson's recent series The Luxe (including The Luxe, Rumours, Envy, and the upcoming Splendour) is full of goregous and unbelievable fashion, meticulous research and addictive gossip. Godberson utilises a similar format to the Gossip Girl books, which have an omniscient narrator and multiple perspectives, as well as quite a wide and loosely linked character base. Set in turn-of-the-century New York, The Luxe centres mainly on the doings of those connected to the Holland family; Elizabeth, engaged unwillingly to Henry Schoonmaker in order to save her family from financial ruin, has her sights set elsewhere. Elizabeth's younger sister, however, has romantic intentions for a suitor which society would no doubt approve of...if only he wasn't engaged to her sister. Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth's faux friend, is just generally nasty, frequently throwing disguised tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. She gives Blair Waldorf a run for her money; she has NO soft side that we've seen yet. Lina, Elizabeth's former maid, attempts to throw off the shackles of her working class life in order to join the ranks of the Hollands and the Hayes in society...at a shocking cost to her former employers.
Godberson has very accurately researched the customs and culture of this time period; some of the traditions and societal upholdings you'll encounter in these books will surprise you with the normality with which they were carried out. For example, it is made known that it was customary for a young lady to change her gloves ten to eleven times a day (while Penelope, thinking herself superior, changes them three times that amount, and discards each pair after a single wear!). Perhaps the most frustrating part of these books is the diligence with which the younger generation uphold their parents wishes, becoming engaged to those they don't like, let alone love, and behaving just so purely for the sake of society.
However, the author hasnot only acknowledged these truths of New York society, but has used them to her advantaged, playing off against them scandalous secrets and manipulative schemes which will keep the reader well and truly hooked. Think of this series as a more sophisticated, more intelligent (dare I say that?) Gossip Girl, with more blackmail, cheating and fashion than you can shake a stick at. This series is going off in America, and with good reason!
In my opinion, one of the best holiday reads I've had so far, and an engrossing topic of conversation with my fellow workmate and bookworm, Ella. ;)
On a slightly different note, does anyone have any reccommendations?
Thanks for reading!