Monday, 29 August 2011

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

I so wanted to like The Luxe, I really did – I admit I was drawn in by that gorgeous cover, but I also really liked the premise of society’s elite in the late 19th Century New York; however, it was very poorly executed from page one. Every single character is very underdeveloped and completely unlikeable, which, in order for the plot to actually work is not what you should be feeling about the characters, though there wasn’t much of a plot to speak of as the twist was obvious from the outset and what follows is four-hundred-or-so mind numbing pages full of utterly unnecessary descriptions of rooms and dresses; The Luxe could have so easily cut at the very least one hundred pages, which would perhaps make it a more enjoyable read.

One thing I particularly didn’t like was when the characters were talking, there would be dialogue, then about three pages of description of what they were both wearing and what the room was like, and then the character’s reply, by which time you’d completely forgotten what the first character had said. However, the thing that really grated me was that although it was clear a lot of research had gone into writing The Luxe, the way the characters spoke and behaved was so out of the era of the turn of the 20th century it was laughable. The only things I want of historical novels is that they do their research and if they try to sound like the period that they are writing about that they manage it, but honestly, if you missed off the date, I would believe someone if they told me this was set in the modern day about a bunch of pretentious rich snobs. We’re treated to a wealth of description about how lovely and nice Elizabeth was in the prologue, but I saw no evidence during the course of the novel that this was the case – she was just as selfish and pretentious as the rest of them.

I’m really starting to think that pretty covers are used to describe awful books, because although we know we shouldn’t, we all do judge books by their cover and I know many people will, like myself, fall into the pitfall of reading this book solely due to its stunning cover. The ‘plot’ goes as follows: Elizabeth dies. Cue hundreds of pages charting her life in the days before when you discover that her family had lost their wealth and thus she has to marry for money – luckily she is jaw-droppingly beautiful and there is a particularly eligible bachelor in New York, so she soon gets engaged, despite loving the stable hand (even though we never see much of his personality to see why)…and then she dies. That’s pretty much it, seriously – it couldn’t get any shallower. The characters are unbelievably flat and stereotypical, everything is told to you and spelt out as simply as possible, and the plot was incredibly yawn-worthy and predictable. Avoid!
[SYNOPSIS: In the self-contained world of young Gilded Age Manhattan socialites, Elizabeth and Diana Holland reign supreme. Or so it seems. Scratch the surface, though, and you can detect festering jealousies that threaten to topple them. Elizabeth suffers a more literal fall when her carriage overturns and she is carried away by the swift East River current. That's only the beginning of the action and suspense in The Luxe, the launch volume in a teen series by Anna Godbersen.]


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