by Anna Godbersen
Harper Collins: New York, 2007
Once upon a time in ye Olde NYC, before Gossip Girl took the interwebs by storm, there were the society pages, the low tech but equally reliable font of the titillating tales of the crème de la crème in NYC society. The Luxe is set in 1890's NYC, during the Guilded Age. Times are a changin': new money encroaches on old money society turf, and the hired help is starting to get ideas! This is the story of Ms. Elizabeth Holland, freshly returned from Paris, and under pressure to be married off to an eligible bachelor now that the Holland family is on the verge of bankruptcy due to some shady dealings by her late father. Her best friend is the nouveau-riche princess of NYC society, Penelope Hayes. Both girls have secret lovers. Penelope's lovah is the catch of the year, Henry Schoonmaker, who is forced into an engagement with Elizabeth, leaving Penelope vengeful. But Elizabeth's not feeling so great about this, as she's taking riding lessons from the coachman down in the stables… Woahhh! Meanwhile, Henry has fallen hard for Diana, Elizabeth's little sister, and Elizabeth's personal maid has gotten some independent ideas during Elizabeth's absence. With Penelope out for revenge, things are bound to take a turn for the dramatic, and the society pages are bound to dish on it!
The Luxe is for YA's who like the scandal, life of excess, and drama GG provides, but maybe want a little history (and yards of silk) thrown into the mix. While the book does provide great historical backdrops, fashion, and misc. tidbits, it often goes well beyond what would have been appropriate, acceptable, or even expected, especially in regards to sex, which could call into question just how historically accurate this work is…As a side note, this is published by the same Harper Collins imprint as GG, Alloy Entertainment. I highly recommend checking out the page for this book on Amazon, where there is the most bizzaro movie trailer for the second book…the first movie trailer I've ever seen for a book to boot. Also, hello. The cover had me at hello - even though I was immediately like, "Shoulders? In ye olde timey New York? Sluuuutttt alerttttt! (But where can I try that dress on, for serious.)"
Book talk hook: Peg this as Gossip Girl, with class…HIGH CLASS! Get it?!? This is one where the cover will help sell the book as fans of historical fiction (and those who fantasize about frolicking in period clothing) may be intrigued by the girl on the cover. I find the narrative tough to do a read aloud with, since the story is kind of all over the place. Summarizing it like I do above will probably be enough.