Review: The Luxe

The Luxe, by Anna Godbersen

Oh dear. Where oh where do we start?

Not too long ago, A Reader's Respite couldn't help but notice that inside every bookstore, prominently displayed in the Young Adult section, was a series of historical fiction aimed towards teens. There appeared to be three books in the series and because historical fiction and young adult are two of A Reader's Respite's favorite genres, well, we bought a copy of the first book in this series by author Anna Godbersen. It's titled The Luxe.

The Luxe (and we're still not sure of the exact meaning of this title), as it turns out, is basically a lurid soap opera for teen girls set in the wealthiest circles of 1899 Manhattan's Grand Society. The storyline is so preposterous that A Reader's Respite really must share. You're gonna love this:

Elizabeth Holland is the toast of Manhattan society. She is young, stunningly beautiful, and heir to one of New York's oldest families. She's also doing the horizontal hokey-pokey with the stable boy every chance she gets. Evidently this is what all young, pedigreed girls do in the year 1899.

Elizabeth's BFF, Penelope is gettin' busy with New York's most eligible bachelor, Henry Schoonmaker and wants desperately to snag poor Henry in marriage. Evidently the phrase "why buy the cow when you're getting the milk for free?" hadn't made it's way into the elite Manhattan society in 1899.

Things start to get interesting when Henry's dad forces him to ask Elizabeth to marry him. Needless to say, Elizabeth and Penelope's BFF relationship loses the FF portion at this point.

This leaves us with Diana, Elizabeth's younger (that's right, YOUNGER) sister who spends her time making out with strange men in coat closets during societal balls. One of whom, is Henry Schoonmaker. Yes, the same Henry who is schtupping Penelope and engaged to Elizabeth. But this is different because Henry and Di are in looooooove.

A Reader's Respite was left burning with questions...

  1. How does it all end? (Predictibly, as it turns out.)
  2. Who cares?
  3. Who in the hell marketed this lurid tale to young girls?
  4. Who in the hell actually believes that young girls in 1899 high society behaved/dressed/spoke this way?
  5. Who keeps giving this book 5 stars on Amazon?

*Sigh* While we may not ever receive the answers we so desire, we're pretty content to tell you that while the writing isn't bad in and of itself (no typos, good grammar, etc), the concept of this story as historical fiction is a sham at best. One need only look at the gown on the cover. Take note that strapless gowns were not appropriate evening attire in 1899.

The sad part is, all the author would have to do is change the time period from 1899 to 2009 and it would have been entirely believable. But then it would have been called just trash.

I know, I know, you're looking for the part where A Reader's Respite offers to give away the book, but GASP, it's not here!

We laughed so hard at this novel that we've decided to read the two sequels just to keep our sense of humor finely honed. Look for reviews in the future and when we've finished with the trilogy, we'll hold a grand giveaway of all three books. Sound like a plan?

If you've been dying to read this book, don't despair....there are respected reviewers who liked it. As a matter of fact, it seems that A Reader's Respite is the ONLY reviewer who didn't...go figure.

Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings
Gimme More Books!
A Patchwork of Books
Everything To Do With Books
Exclusively Books
Debbie's World of Books
Stop, Drop, and Read!
Beth Fish Reads
Tower of Books


  1. So you enjoyed it, then? LOL ;)

  2. that cracks me up!

  3. I am so glad that you reviewed this, Michelle. I have to admit that it has caught my eye quite often over the past yearish (or whenever it came out). The fact that the title still makes no sense bothers me and I didn't spend (waste) my time reading it.

    I think I know what this is - it is a way for teenagers to read smutty books without their mother's knowing - unless their mothers are book bloggers like we are. Ha! Ha!

  4. LOL, love your review! I do read this series, but I agree with pretty much everything you said!

  5. Or middle-aged women like us to like to dig around a little in YA smut (not too different from Twilight). The cover is eye-catching, but damned if my daughter will get her hands on this one!

  6. Literate Housewife -- not having a teenage daughter, I hadn't thought of that, LOL, but I suspect you're right. The thing is, they're entertaining in this smutty way. Which is fine for us adults, but stinks when you market it to kids. But maybe I'm hopelessly old-fashioned.

    ProphecyGirl - I'm so glad you took it in the spirit it was intended (thanks for that). Not condemning anyone who reads them...after all, I'm going to read the next two just to have something fun to skewer, LOL!

    Sandy - absolutely. It's a lot like Twilight...which I personally loved but wouldn't be crazy about my daughter reading it. Thankfully by the time Little Kid is a teenager, I'll be really old and probably too senile to care what she reads.

  7. Wow. A little unexpected. I rather like that big pink cupcake of a dress, even if it's missing its sleeves and such.

  8. Bookfool - no doubt about it, the covers are luscious, aren't they? I still think the writing is good, it's just marketed questionably. But that's just my opinion and doesn't count for squat. ;)

  9. I believe Reviewer X said the same thing - "The sad part is, all the author would have to do is change the time period from 1899 to 2009 and it would have been entirely believable." I really enjoyed reading this review!!

  10. ROFL. I read a copy of the second book Rumors courtesy of Amazon Vine. What crap, well bred young ladies did not have that kind of freedom. Better off reading Wharton, at least when her characters went astray there were consequences.

    PS, wait until you get to the bear rug scene in Rumors. You'll love it :)

  11. I've been reading glowing reviews of this series, but since you mention it, neither the gown nor the model's hair seem appropriate for the time mentioned.

  12. Oh, I want to have that dress and - wait - 1899? I do believe you are correct - they didn't have those dresses back then. But what are such details if you read this instead of *history* anyway?

    I definitely agree with Literate Housewife on the sneaky smut idea. On the other hand, if you don't ACTUALLY have to sneak it, is it still smutty? Does it mean there is smuttier smut out there?

    All I really know is, I want the dress (well, I would have to have the face and the body first), and I want the cow's Lolita sunglasses as an accessory to the dress. And Henry Schoonmaker! I want him because everybody else does! I want to be MRS. SCHOONMAKER!

    Thanks for pointing this book out!

  13. I love it that you're so honest! Now I'm sure not to get this for my daughter...lOl!

  14. I know of a few people who didn't like this. I bought it when it first came out simply because of the cover, but haven't read it yet!

  15. I suspect I'd be more with you than the people who liked my eldest child nears the teen years, I'm becoming increasingly allergic to the idea that much of YA fiction seems very heavy on the sexual content.

  16. LOL Michele, you know what they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure!

  17. haha..,yes, those are some burning questions indeed. I haven't read the series but I still want to, just for the sake of pure entertainment.

  18. Iryna - thanks for the heads-up about Reviewer X....I'll add their review to my post, too. :)

    Misfit - Agreed re: Wharton. I'm no classics snob by any means, but that woman is queen of New York at the turn of the century.

    Suzi - don't want to scare you off from the books...just warn you it's not very well-placed in the YA HF market, LOL.

    Kathy - aside from the mis-marketing, the book wasn't bad. Smutty, but not bad. You might like the books, you never know till you try!

    Rhapsody (aka Mrs Schoonmaker) - LOL, yes if you have to hide it then it's smut. But a tasteful cover negates it, especially if everyone thinks you're reading very intelligent historical fiction!

    Ms. Lucy - all I say is, you read it before you let your kidlets read it!

    Marg - I'll be watching for your review, LOL. ;)

    M. - ain't that the truth? Everywhere you turn, our kids are assaulted with sexual content. Not that sex is bad. It's just bad for a 15 year old. (Or if it's my kid, a 20 year old, ha)

    Alaine - very true! I loved your review and I can certainly see the addiction to these books. Kinda like the Twilight phenomenon, eh? Thanks for being such a good sport!

    Veens - I'm so glad to see your name and have you back to blogging!

    VioletCrush - Please DO read the books if they interest you. My opinion isn't worth a grain of salt and I was mostly bitching about the marketing.

  19. That dress is so big, several couples could do the hanky-panky in there and not be seen.

  20. While I haven't read this, I have less an issue with marketing "smut" to teens (remember that teens know more about this stuff than their parents think and shouldn't be censored past a certain age) than with publishers marketing "crap" to teens.

  21. Oh, I just suspended belief and had fun with it. Predictable, yes, fun: yes for me. Rumors: less predictable but less fun. I'll keep reading, just because. Sometimes I'm just too easy.

    I have no kids but have sent my books to my 14-yo niece. I guess I'm a horrible aunt!

  22. Bybee - bwa-ha-ha-ha!

    Beth - oh you horrid auntie, LOL, but that's their mom's job, to watch what they read. You're just the way cool auntie!!

    And I, too, will continue reading these just for kicks and giggles!

  23. Oh thank God -- I am not the only one! I heard such great things about this novel, but I barely made it through 50 pages. Life's too short, the book is going back to the library.

  24. Oh God, I just bought this like 2 days agos. Now I'm intrigued, I'll just have to read it and see how I feel about it. I have to admit I really liked the cover (yes, I succumb to a good cover all the time), plus I read a good review it about 2 weeks ago.

    ♥ Nely

  25. Thanks for the entertaining review Michele! I entered a contest for this one a couple of weeks ago and now I'm glad I didn't win it! Can't wait to see what you think of the other two

  26. You know what so good about this review Michele? You were honest, I've actually put up unfavourable reviews and had people say they agree only to find they gave a great review of a book they didn't like. Honesty is the best policy, this coming week I will be slamming one of my favourite authors for my latest read of hers!

  27. I think I'm somewhere between your opinion and Beth's. I definitely wouldn't go so far as to say it is Twilight-esque, because I found the writing to be much less crappy than Stephenie Meyers' writing. It was fairly ridiculous and very predictable, but it was engaging. I am going to go ahead and read the others as mind candy (probably), but since I'm not into shows like Gossip Girls, I probably won't enjoy them as much as some people have.

  28. my daughter (just turned 13) ate up the entire triology. Whatever keeps her reading ...

    LOL at your last paragraph - 1899 historical fiction set in 2009 would be trash! Maybe that's what appealed to my daughter!

  29. Now this is the type of review I was talking about! Thanks, Michele!

  30. I really would like to read this one day but I'll make sure to keep what you said in mind.

  31. ROTFL, I haven't read this series but I loved your review for its honesty. So true, different strokes for different folks!!

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