Sep 21, 09
Read in September, 2009
"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things!!!!"
Alright, my darling readers, don't pretend you don't know what's coming. In appreciation of Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table week, I said I would post a review on Rumours, which is, technically the 19th century version of Gossip Girl. The series revels in the comparison - when I read the first in the series, The Luxe in 2008, it boasted the similarity between the two on the front cover!
But here's the thing, don't be put off by the comparison either. Because even though you could seriously point every character in Rumours towards the direction of its counterpart in GG, there's something that sparkles about this series, all on its own. At least a glint here and there.
If you've been living under a rock and don't know what Gossip Girl or The Luxe series is on about, the backstory is this: it's all about New York royalty, baby - teen style. The ladies are backstabbers and conniving, nasty, spoilt BRATS and the gentlemen are usually worse and PLAYERS to boot. The characters fan about attending social events where they generally make a point of misinterpreting conversations, utter snide comments behind one anothers backs, get it on with your bestie's boyf and regret the action for about a week before they fall into the habit of doing it all over again.
It's SO. DARN. ADDICTIVE.
There is some serious style lurking in GG, and it's exactly the same with Rumours, only the year is 1899 rather than 2009. Think silk gloves, fur coats and mitts, strings of pearls on christmas trees and egg-nog in champagne flutes - this brat-pack is seriously in the money. There's so much drama going on and it's complemented surprisingly well with the haughty tones and charm of the Victorian era. The book is interspersed with deliciously contrived excerpts from society gossip columns, deportment tips and newspaper clippings which add so much to the feel of the series.
Rumours follows on from The Luxe - Elizabeth Holland, society's Darling, has drowned in a river and the gossip mill is still coming to terms with it. A select few, however, know better. Diana, Elizabeth's sister, is keeping a very precious secret - but such secrets are starting to multiply because golly gosh - she has fallen in love with the town Playboy, Henry Schoonmaker! Which wouldn't be so bad, if Henry wasn't formerly engaged to the recently-presumed-deceased Lizzy Holland before she plunged into the deathly waters. Even this wouldn't be bad, except Lizzy's best friend, the catty Penelope, has Henry in her sights and will stop at NOTHING to get what she wants.
Then there's Lina, the former house servant, who has bribed Penelope in return for a princely sum, and is now playing the newest Society sweetheart...but she is on tenterhooks playing her new life - it is only a matter of time before her disguise is blown.
Teddy, Henry's best mate - there's something cooking with him and someone's stepmother... and then there's the farmhand Will, whose rugged good looks have caught someone's elegant eye...but will they ever be able to live happily ever after? Or will their lives and worlds prove too different? As you can probably tell by now The Luxe series is a scrumptious cocktail of impending DOOM and I gobble it up and then gobble it up some more.
Of course, like most of these sort of books, it aint no high-brow literary work. And along with that comes some overplayed language and heavily scrawled descriptions and stoopid teenybopper feelings that I ALMOST feel like I must be over by now (...NEVER!!). But what my attraction boils down to is this: because I love the types of things these girls wear and the general ironic sophistication of the era itself I cannot help but sigh in immense pleasure and stretch like a well-fed cat when I read about these incredibly pretty fools. Along with the fact that the author has created characters who can still appeal to the audience because even though they're super rich, they still do silly things in love, and regret spiteful words, and feel envious of others. Tis a truly beautiful thing.
Finally, there's great little cliffhangers at the end of each book so it'll keep you positively DYING to know how Penelope wears her hair next time! Haha.
So if YOU can keep yourself from eye-rolling after the first 50 or so pages, you might be on to your newest, and most decadent guilty pleasure yet.
I know I'm smitten.
4 stars for Rumours.
P.S. Again, its the English-Australian versus American thing - we spell 'Rumors' with a "u". And the cover is almost exactly the same as the US one (above) except the dress is slightly pinker in tone, and there's a couple of white lattice pattern flourishes in the two bottom corners. But I like the U.S. cover - its so darkly and unabashedly RICH.