As I was reading the third book in Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series, Envy, I realized that I was doing something frowned upon. I was becoming emotionally attached to and started rooting for one of the appointed “bad guys,” or in this case, rather, the “bad-gal.” In this series, there is a character named Carolina, who is a former maid. She sells secrets about her former employers and socialites, the Hollands, in order to fund her own launch into society. As a housemaid, Lina reaches beyond her social station and has ambition to re-make herself into a moneyed darling of the society pages. While she finances her initial rise with private, shocking, and detrimental details of the Hollands’ lives, somehow I found myself wanting the best for her.
I’m not usually a fan of villains. Authors write “bad-guys” intending readers to hate them, or at least to dislike them. Sometimes though, villains are not so cut and dry. They are complex people with personalities that readers can sympathize with. Lina is one of these characters and I find myself empathizing with her, thinking I might behave in a similar manner in like circumstances.
Although I am quite wrapped up with the Holland sisters’ plights, realizing that all that glitters is not gold in their sparkling world of balls and civility, I feel more for the social-climbing maid with a desperation and ambition that causes her to do almost anything to get her where she wants to be. She is a working girl with a humble background and an ordinary life. Lina is one of us, and is probably someone I would be if I travelled in a time machine back to her Victorian era. Opulence was for the wealthy and let’s face it, most people were not lucky enough to be a Rockefeller in their past life. Somehow you can’t help but root for the common man, in whatever guise he may appear.
When her wealthy companion dies in Envy, I kept my fingers crossed, hoping he would leave her a large fortune so that Lina could live comfortably, rub elbows with famous heiresses, and marry a handsome (and rich) man.
While I agree that Lina does some horrible and self-serving things, I can’t help but like her. I suppose it is the duality of human nature influencing my reaction to Godbersen’s character, but this both grasping and pitiable woman is the most realistic, interesting, and well-written character in the series.
I guess what I’m saying is that, in my opinion, Lina is the best part of the Luxe books. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for her and her future in the fourth and final installment when I get around to reading it!