Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Review: The Luxe

Quick note before I start, this review is only for the first book in the series (which is also known as The Luxe, since I do sometimes review entire series I just wanted to make that clear).
I'd seen this book in various libraries before but only picked it up recently since I was bored and really needed something else to read that wasn't for school (there's a limit to how much Romantic poetry I can read and it's not very much). I'd actually seen the book recommended before on a steampunk community (since it has a lot of details about the various dresses in there, despite how the cover looks) so I took a chance on it.

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
 When I mentioned the cover earlier, I meant that unlike the cover the dresses in the book are all period accurate. This isn't what dresses from 1899 look like but it certainly conveys the idea of luxery (and I like how the dress stretches from the front cover to the back). Colors are a bit dull and restrainded and I couldn't see the wallpaper detail on my copy but it works well enough.

Summary: It's the Victorian Era, New York City, but the city is celebrating a different kind of event today, the funeral of Elizabeth Holland. One of the city's foremost beauties and poised to marry one of it's most eligible bachelors she dies right before her wedding night. But rewinding the clock shows that many young people in the city had the motivation to stop this wedding (including Elizabeth herself) so how did this tragedy really occur?

The Good: Even though I guessed in the prologue how Elizabeth died I was never one hundred percent sure since the book focuses on a number of characters who could have done the dirty deed and the reveal only comes in the last few pages. The book isn't a character study but it focuses exclusively on the characters and their relationships with the others without feeling stale and that's probably why the series has so many fans. It's paced well and manages to both tell a complete story yet have an open enough ending for the sequels.

The Bad: I wasn't aware that this book was essentially Gossip Girl's in the 19th century and I just don't like the gossip girls that much. If I had been aware that this book was mostly people talking, holding affairs, and backstabbing I would've avoided it (practically none of the characters are likable, some are more understandable than others but I wasn't rooting for any of them to get a happy ending). So I won't be reading the rest of the books in this series, just not the kind of book for me and at least now I know that. 

I don't actually have that many books out right now for casual reading, again with the Romantic poems taking up a lot of my time (and a good bit of art history too). Actually, all I have is yet another werewolf book and then a non-fiction book about concubines in the 19th century and I'm hoping to finish those by the end of my spring break in a couple of weeks, fingers crossed that I can renew them for that long (no seriously, my college library seems to have no set policy on how many days you can renew a book and you can only do it twice, it drives me bonkers). Oh, and I'm going to have an announcement about my reviews tomorrow so, if you follow this blog regularly, please keep an eye out for it!