The Luxe

The Luxe
by Anna Godbersen
performed by Nina Siemaszko
Published 2008 by HarperAudio
9 hours, 34 minutes. Unabridged.
Rating: 4/5

Pretty girls in pretty dresses, partying until dawn.Irresistible boys with mischievous smiles and dangerous intentions.White lies, dark secrets, and scandalous hookups.This is Manhattan, 1899.

Beautiful sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland rule Manhattan’s social scene. Or so it appears. When the girls discover their status among New York City’s elite is far from secure, suddenly everyone—from the backstabbing socialite Penelope Hayes, to the debonair bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, to the spiteful maid Lina Broud—threatens Elizabeth’s and Diana’s golden future.

With the fate of the Hollands resting on her shoulders, Elizabeth must choose between family duty and true love. But when her carriage overturns near the East River, the girl whose glittering life lit up the city’s gossip pages is swallowed by the rough current. As all of New York grieves, some begin to wonder whether life at the top proved too much for this ethereal beauty, or if, perhaps, someone wanted to see Manhattan’s most celebrated daughter disappear…

In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent.

I think it’s easy to look at the cover of these and think they look cheesy. Yes, they’re beautiful covers, but they never really seemed like something I would enjoy reading. But I was wrong. I listened to The Luxe and Rumors early last year, before I had a blog. I decided I should finish the series, but I needed a little refresher, so I downloaded them from my library again and I’m working my way through the whole series before beginning Anna’s Bright Young Things series.

The best thing about this book is it’s characters. Each of them has an exterior that doesn’t quite match the interior. The only exceptions might be Elizabeth’s sister Diana and Henry. Those two are true kindred spirits in that they don’t try to hide who they are, and if they do it’s only because they’re parents make them. Elizabeth is probably the best at deception. She is hiding a secret passion so huge it consumes her. But I love Elizabeth. She has a huge heart and she is willing to sacrifice all that she wants for her family. She’s a much more complex person than those around her give her credit for, and she ends up surprising all of them.

Henry is almost as good. He can be a real asshole sometimes, but he’s hiding a passionate heart. When he finally finds someone worthy of it, he treats her with utter care. He sees right through Penelope, and she can’t even tell. Penelope is too self-absorbed to realize that he’s not even remotely close to being in love with her. She, I think, is one of the less complicated characters. She’s just pure evil.

Then there’s Lena, whose story I imagine will come to the surface a little more as the series progresses. First of all, I don’t like her. She’s a bitch, and even though it’s because she doesn’t know everything, I can’t give her the benefit of the doubt. She’s hopelessly naive. She spends half the book trailing behind Will, hoping he’ll notice her and assuming that his feelings for Elizabeth are nothing. Then, she tries to become exactly like Elizabeth and Penelope, thinking that’s what Will sees in her. It’s just sad. It makes me feel sorry for her, but she’s so nasty to people that I can’t even hold that emotion long.

As for Nina Siemaszko’s performance, there was something lacking. A few things really. I didn’t like her almost emotionless reading. There was no variety of voices for the characters. She was constantly mispronouncing words or not using the correct emphasis. I grew used her voice after a time, but her reading never lost it’s halting sound. Still, I don’t have the time to read these in print so I’ll continue listening to her. If you’re planning on picking the series up, I’d recommend the print version over the audio.

Author’s website:
Purchase this book: Book Depository | IndieBound | Audible

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  1. This looks so fantastic… I think you just sold me this series on audio!

  2. I felt that way when I looked at the cover. I guess I should take another/different look. Thanks for the awesome review! I'll find it in book form like you said.


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