(Luxe #2)
by Anna Godbersen
performed by Nina Siemaszko
Published 2008 by HarperAudio
9 hours, 53 minutes. Unabridged.
Rating: 3/5

After bidding good-bye to New York’s brightest star, Elizabeth Holland, rumors continue to fly about her untimely demise.
All eyes are on those closest to the dearly departed: her mischievous sister, Diana, now the family’s only hope for redemption; New York’s most notorious cad, Henry Schoonmaker, the flame Elizabeth never extinguished; the seductive Penelope Hayes, poised to claim all that her best friend left behind—including Henry; even Elizabeth’s scheming former maid, Lina Broud, who discovers that while money matters and breeding counts, gossip is the new currency.
As old friends become rivals, Manhattan’s most dazzling socialites find their futures threatened by whispers from the past. In this delicious sequel to The Luxe, nothing is more dangerous than a scandal . . . or more precious than a secret.

One thing I love about this series are the articles from the gossip columns and excerpts from society pages at the beginning of every chapter. Some of these really embody how ridiculous society was in that time. There was such a disregard for how one felt, as opposed to how one appeared and what was accepted. There are two major examples of this in this series. How Liz and Will feel about each other doesn’t matter to society. What matters is that she was born into a good family, and he wasn’t. How Henry and Diana feel about each other doesn’t matter. What matters is that her sister is gone, and people will talk if they pursue an engagement. Penelope really puts the topper on that cake with her threats. If society weren’t so nosy and absolutely exclusive, things could have ended so much differently for the Holland sisters. Of course, it’s not really over, is it?

Characters really make this one, yet again. Every character is strong, whether they’re likable or not. Penelope continues with her mission to make everyone miserable, save herself. I’m thinking things won’t be as blissful as she’s hoping, though. Diana and Henry really resonate with me. They’re such great characters. Diana is so true to her feelings. She doesn’t hold to convention for conventions sake. She’s bold and brazen and I love it. So does Henry, though he finds himself in an awful situation and does the unthinkable: he does the honorable thing, probably for the first time in his life. I wish he’d had better options, but at least he had Diana’s best interest in mind. Lena has become a very interesting character. As soon as she lets go of Will and sets her sights on richer things, she won me over a little. She still disgusts me, but it’s not in the same way that Penelope disgusts me. I think there’s something good in Lena, she’s just buried it deep. I suppose we’ll see. These incredible characters are part of what makes this book great, but the plot is just as interesting. There’s gossip and scandal everywhere.

I think this series is a good thing for YA genre. It’s difficult to understand Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters (though neither of those are set in America) if you’re not into that kind of thing. This series gives a rather accurate look at the constraints of 19th century society in a way that’s easy to read. It’s all gossip and scandal really, but there is a lot under the surface about what was expected of the upper class in that time, when people married for money or title or politics and people’s private lives were splashed across the pages of gossip columns for everyone to gawk at before they marked those in question “ruined.” Seriously, if you need an easy read you won’t want to put down, look no further. Just know, Godbersen will take you on some twists. She has no scruples in setting things up for one outcome and going in a completely different direction.

Nina Siemaszko isn’t my favorite voice actor, as I mentioned in the review of the first book. She reads more than acts, actually. No voices to differentiate the characters. Countless mispronunciations. If anything drives me crazy, it’s that. There’s also a halting in her voice, as if she’s not quite comfortable reading for a long period of time, but this could be intentional. I imagine she may be trying to imitate the way people spoke then. Either way, I’m still listening, so that’s something. Again, pick up the print version. You’ll enjoy it more.

The following quote begins chapter ten, and I think more than speaks of the elitist attitude of high society at the time.

With the opening of the opera tonight, we can again expect to see man of the city’s most lamentable invalids, those suffering from that insidious disease called social aspirations, who will no doubt be trying to elbow their way into making new friends in high places by renting a box, no matter the cost, as have so many strivers before them. We can at least be assured that teh crowd they move in is already inoculated.
-from the society page of the New-York News of the World Gazette, Saturday, December 16, 1899.

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

Reviews of other books in this series:
The Luxe

Leave a comment


  1. I have not read this series yet, it sounds interesting sounds like Gossip Girl! Thanks for posting your review, it was great!

  2. Thanks, Moirae!


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