For the YA Historical Fiction Challenge, Sapphire and Cornflower have both read The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. So here are our general impressions of the book:
Sapphire — The late 19th and early 20th century is by far my favorite time period, so of course I picked up The Luxe from my library with anticipation and excitement. I can say that I wasn’t disappointed with the book, although, like Cornflower, I did find it predictable. Whether or not the plot twists would be so for those more young than adult, I do not know; it could be that I’ve just read one too many books.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the lush world of grand balls, silk gowns, and turn of the century opulence that Godbersen created. Like any good historical fiction novel, The Luxe draws you into the life and times of the characters, both wealthy and poor. The social whorl that Elizabeth experiences is a being itself that serves to emphasize the pressures placed on the Holland family. While I understood this pressure put on Elizabeth and her sense of duty to her family, I did find myself becoming a bit annoyed at her reluctance to leave her world behind for love. Then again, I’m a hopeless romantic, and where would the book be without internal conflict? The characters could be catty, scheming, and needed extra room in their carriages for all of their ulterior motives, so sometimes the book read a bit like a soap opera but all in all I enjoyed The Luxe.
I would definitely recommend this for a quick, frivolous read, perhaps when you are feeling particularly gossipy. The book will suck you in, and unlike reading Twilight, you won’t find yourself on the other side wondering why you uncontrollably waisted several hours of your time. I found myself turing the last page at 2am because I was just swept along with the story, so maybe it will sweep you away too!
Cornflower — I enjoyed The Luxe quite a bit. Enough that I will probably read the rest of the series (depending on how easy they are to come by at my local library.) The story had a good, fast pace. The love stories were endearing. I enjoyed the juxtaposition between the servants and the wealthy families of old New York. I’m not too familiar with the time period, but it seemed accurate from what little I do know.
I do have two complaints: One is I felt the girls acted older than their characters really were. Elizabeth and Penelope were both meant to be 18 and the youngest girl, Diana is supposed to be 16. Granted, at the beginning of the book, I found Diana’s 16 convincing, dreaming of adventure, and sneaking ill-adviced kisses. Halfway through the book, however, she seemed to have aged a couple of years (and the book only covers three weeks time!) My second complaint is that the big mystery/twist in the book, isn’t much of a mystery at all, and most readers will guess what’s happened less than halfway through.
Despite the two setbacks, I still found it an entertaining read. True, not likely to change anyone’s life, but I would recommend this book to someone who wanted a weekend bubble bath read in a claw-footed tub. (Which I may have done myself.)