Monday, August 11, 2008

The Luxe

So....I'm a little crazy about The Luxe series. Picture The Gossip Girls set in late 1890s Manhattan, and you have a pretty good idea of what it's all about. Which may either make you want to immediately read the series or avoid it like the plague. Cecily von Ziegesar loves this series.

A sister in love with her older sister's fiance! The older sister in love with the family coachman! Balls and flirtatious glances (and more....uh oh) and forbidden love all passionately described by Anna Godbersen. Where was this series when I was in high school? The Sweet Valley Twins are such goobers compared to this! Definitely one that teens love and adults (other than those that love gossipy YA novels in spite of themselves) hate. This is pure escapism with a shiny gloss of unimaginable late 19th century New York glamour and privilege.

Hey! What does that sound like? The Gossip Girls except for the late 19th century stuff? Nooooo. It sounds like Edith Wharton. Talk about lavish details of parties, gowns, and love-that-cannot-be (with more social criticism than The Luxe). I first read Edith Wharton when I was a junior in high school, and I was hooked. Wharton is one of those "classic" authors who doesn't read like a dry "classic" author. If you need a Luxe fix until January (when Envy is released), you definitely need to check out The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth (will Lina end up just like Lily Bart?). Not as naughty as The Luxe series (although there are definitely hints), but even more immensely satisfying. Wild and tragic romances, come and get it.

(I'd also recommend Charlotte Bronte's Villette, if you're more into the lower rung of society mingling with the higher rung. I love this much more than Jane Eyre.)

After I finished Rumors, I thought about the fact that very often in literature, women who marry "down" are usually disgraced and punished. Elizabeth is not so much disgraced (yet?) as she is "punished," because of her love for Will (and is further punished at the end of the book). The reverse is not true for male characters in literature. Case in point? Cinderella! Jane Eyre! Can you name a folk/fairy tale or classic book in which a woman is not punished for marrying down? The Little Mermaid is punished for falling in love with a mortal. Happens all the time in Edith Wharton's books, too. If you can think of a book or story in which this is not true (fractured fairy tales don't count), let me know. I'm drawing a blank.

(Oh. The Luxe series? DEFINITELY YA. Like, high school YA. But a cool website. Again, where was this series when I was in high school? To be fair, I don't think Ms. Godbersen is all that old.)

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