After reading The Unspoken, I found myself in the mood for something lighter, something outside my normal realm of heavy, dark fiction. I picked up The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. This book might best be described as Gossip Girls meets Edith Wharton, or Gossip Girls at the turn of the century. (Twentieth, that is.)
The year is 1899 and well-bred, high society girls like Elizabeth Holland are expected to marry for money and name, not love. Elizabeth's mother is especially anxious for her eldest daughter to wed because the Hollands have fallen on hard times since their patriarch died. In fact they're skirting the edges of poverty and only their good, old rich New York name and Elizabeth's matrimonial prospects will keep them out of the poor house. A marriage is arranged between Elizabeth and the son of another rich New York family. The problem is Elizabeth is madly in love with her coachman, Will, to whose room she sneaks off to in the night. Elizabeth's fiance has been dallying with the beautiful but secretly evil Penelope Hayes, a society girl who pretends to be Elizabeth's dearest friend but actually plots against her. Penelope has been spending some "quality time" with Liz's fiance, whom she has assumed will ask her to marry him, so when Elizabeth's engagement is announced, Penelope is furious and out for revenge. Then, to muddy the romantic waters further, the fiance develops feelings for Diana Holland, Elizabeth's younger sister. And Elizabeth's personal maid also happens to be in love with stable boy,Will, so when she finds out that her supposedly pristine lady is spending nights in the stable, the maid has some serious blackmail material against Elizabeth.
This book is full of romance, intrigue, blackmail, and possibly. . . murder? A fast read, despite its 433 pages, the novel is a wonderful romp through the stylish but suffocating late 1800's. Many of the plot turns are pretty predictable, but that doesn't spoil the joy of this read at all.
And check out that cover. That is a cover to die for. I want that dress and I don't even like pink.