Jan 15, 2010

Rumors by Anna Godbersen

This is book number two in a four part historical fiction series. Naturally, if you have not read the first one, then spoilers may lie ahead for you. Check out my review of the first novel, The Luxe, and then come back to catch up on the new gossip!

Would you die for another life? Well that's exactly what Elizabeth Holland did. With the aid of "frenemy" Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth managed to convince the whole of New York (including her reluctant fiance Henry Schoonmaker & her treacherous former lady's maid Lina Broud) that she took a terrible spill in a coach accident and fell to the bottom of the Hudson River. All of this deception was necessary in order for Elizabeth to maintain her family's good name as Penelope had uncovered that Elizabeth was in love with William Keller, the Holland family stable-boy. Penelope helped Elizabeth escape New York so that she could be with Will, while Penelope stayed behind and watched her own star rise.

Also remaining behind are those mourning Elizabeth, like her younger sister Diana. Fortunately though, Diana is not mourning her sister's loss for real because she knows what really happened. She goes through the motions on a kind of auto-pilot to keep up appearances, but really she is sneaking any and all spare time to be with Henry Schoonmaker. Her sister may have been betrothed to him, but neither one wanted the match. So as luck would have it, Henry got to meet and fall in love with Diana as a side-effect to being engaged to Elizabeth. Unfortunately it is not nearly as easy to be together as it should considering that neither Diana nor Henry are really supposed to be seen during their time of mourning and even if they could be seen, Penelope has yet to give up on winning Henry's heart back. At whatever the cost.

Lina Broud is also trying to obtain something no matter the cost. She is trying to break into the social elite scene, but is having trouble finding an in. She doesn't have much money as she can only work odd jobs and she doesn't have all the finery that is required to even be considered worth accommodating at most tea rooms. That is until her luck changes. She manages to amuse the ailing Carey Lewis Longhorn and he takes her in as his pet project. He gets her in to the opera and fancy parties, which is what she needs to succeed in a society that is based off of your social standing.

Secrets, lies, love, and even sometimes death are all mixed together in this enthralling second installment of The Luxe series. Anna Godbersen continues her amazing tale with lovable, and detestable, characters. Each of them is representative of their time period in different fashions. As the older crowd, Henry, Elizabeth, and Penelope are all bound by societal rules, whereas Diana and Lina seem to be striking out on their own in a more forward-thinking way. I feel a natural draw towards Diana. Her free-spiritedness is just too reminiscent of how I very my own youth (am I really old enough to say that now?) and it makes me wonder about what I would have been like during this time period. I could really do without the Lina Broud storyline though. I understand that she is representative of the emerging middle class during this time period, but I just can't really stand her. She irks me too badly. The rest of the characters fall in line with what I would expect from them, which could get repetitive, but the situations they constantly find themselves in are what make the story so captivating.

It is a real pleasure watching these characters as they grow and change in their roles. My favorite part of the whole book is the very beginning, because just like with the first book, the author essentially tells you the end without giving anything away and I just love trying to figure out how we end up at that scene as I read the book. Really, there is nothing in this series that I don't like (except for Lina Broud's story). The setting is magnificent as it really captures the time and character of Manhattan. The little snippets from daily papers are a wonderful addition and always so well done. All in all this is a very well done book and series and I am looking forward to writing my next reviews!

1 comment:

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

Wow, what a great review of a great book! I really enjoyed this one too and I'm currently reading Envy! These books are just so amazing - someone once described them as 'mind candy' and I totally agree, but whoa are they DELICIOUS! Can't wait to see how it all ends!