Rebecca's Reviews > The Luxe

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
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Jan 17, 08

Read in January, 2008

unfortunately, I left this at home over the weekend, so progress is stalled.
here are my thoughts half-way through, and I don't expect them to change:

1. every review I caught of this made it out to be "gossip girl, 1899"--it's not. the comparison is obvious enough (rich kids, new york...1899...there are even some amazingly parallel characters that would make me mad if I were Cecily von Ziegesar), but it's inaccurate. Gossip Girl, while trashy, and fraught with gross materialism and brand-dropping, actually has some interesting things going on in the story. The Luxe is slow-moving and predictable; there's no playing around with the idea of narrator,the characters are flat and it's hard to identify with any of them... It's much more like Austen/Bronte/Thackeray fair, but with dumbed down contemporary writing. Despite the simpler writing, it takes just as much determination to press through the text (because it's dull); and for that, I think most Gossip Girl readers are going to be baffled when people recommend this book to them. My guess is they'll give up before they get to the first coy tilt of the head and mild cloakroom romp.

1a. some reviews I read suggested this for fans of A Great and Terrible Beauty...I think that's just cover-confusion. Fans of the cover of A Great and Terrible Beauty will also probably like the cover of The Luxe. I do think it's a striking cover.

2. every review I caught also praised The Luxe/Godbersen for terrific historic facts. Really? I'm doubting that. I mean, I don't know enough to know for sure, but I have a running list of things to check. For one thing, even if Holland was a common name in late 19th century New York City, I feel like an author could trust her readers to interpret a more subtle name (van der Woodsen, say), instead of being so heavy-handed with the "old Dutch Family" thing. There are some neat tidbits of new york history, things to make it fun...mention of farms, the old age of gramercy park, fifth avenue starting to be developed...but I'm not sure it's enough history to merit all the history-praise.

3. it's fun enough. and the cover might be powerful enough to lure some unsuspecting YA readers.
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Echo I have to admit, it was the cover that caught me. You got that right.


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