by Veda Kumarjiguda
An Elegant Formula
If I had a business card, the title under my name would be “Chicklit Connoisseur.” I’m not ashamed of my interest in scandal, drama, and the misunderstood bad-boy, and I have a catalog of every The It Girl plot line taking up space in my brain.
So it’s surprising that I’ve never picked up The Luxe series. The four-part series follows three New York socialites in 1899. The Luxe, the first book in the series, begins like a mystery: a funeral on the day of the biggest wedding of the year, with the bride in the casket. The novel then plays out the past, with a Gossip Girl-like tone and energy. The characters fit the Serena and Blair archetypes respectively: Penelope is crazy/beautiful and Elizabeth is always trying to be perfect. The girls shop just as much as the Gossip Girl characters (except their clothes are a lot heavier) and ride in carriages instead of cabs. Just like Gossip Girl, New York City is a character.
The historical references are definitely the best part of the book. I enjoyed reading about the changes in Broadway, the shopping assistants in Lord and Taylor, and the characters’ dreams about the Western frontier.
I wanted to love this book, but I predicted the ending halfway through, which really ruined the thrill for me. Even though the prologue captured my attention, it was what made it easy to piece everything together! It was like solving a math problem after looking at the answer in the back of the book. Though to be fair Anna Godbersen quickly tacks on a cliff hanger and forces her readers to get the second book.
To summarize: Gossip Girl + U.S. History II + Cliff= The Luxe.
You can read the book, or just read Gossip Girl while listening to a history lecture on tape and sitting on the edge of a cliff. You’d get the same experience.