Godbersen, A. (2008). Rumors: A Luxe novel. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Plot Summary: This is the second book in the Luxe series in the first book Elizabeth Holland faked her death with the help of her rival Penelope. In this second book Elizabeth is now living out west with her beau while Penelope and Elizabeth’s younger sister Diana try to win the heart of New York’s most eligible bachelor Henry, Elizabeth’s former fiance. All the characters are scheming to get what they want and trying to stay out of the society pages as they do it. Diana’s mother wants her married off as soon as possible but she is sure if she can wait just a little longer she will have Henry’s love again especially once he finds out that her sister is still alive so he doesn’t need to feel guilty over her death. Meanwhile Penelope cannot figure out why Henry does not love her and befriends his stepmother in an attempt to get closer to him. She instead discovers Henry’s in love with Diana and that they have slept together information she uses to force him to marry her or ruin Diana’s reputation. Meanwhile, worried for her mother Elizabeth secretly has returned to New York. She finds that things are going to work out for her family and tries to leave before anyone finds out. Unfortunately she is spotted at the train station and her husband is shot by police who believe he kidnapped her. The story ends with the two sisters vowing to win Henry back for Diana his true love.
Critical Evaluation: This story is very intense and convoluted and at times requires readers to suspend disbelief that the characters are getting away with some of the things they are. For example Diana takes to selling gossip to a writer and meets with him in public on multiple occasions yet none of the other writers notice even though her every move seems to be reported in the paper and reporters are following her because of the rumors that Elizabeth is still alive. This sense of disbelief helps to set the tone of this book as being rather over the top. This fits well with the society people in the story who have very opulent life styles. The book is also very fast paced and alternates between multiple characters and their various schemes to get what they want. At times this is done very well and gives the story a sense of excitement and danger but in other sections it becomes a bit confusing and muddles the story down. Therefore, the writing comes off as a bit inconsistent. There is also not a whole lot of character growth in the book. Readers see some in Henry who goes from a playboy with a well-earned questionable reputation to utterly dedicated to Diana. However the other characters start off as schemers and are still schemers. Elizabeth had some character growth in deciding to leave her family and fortune for love in the first book but at the end of this book she is back to being a society schemer like the other girls.
Reader’s Annotation: In this second Luxe book Penelope and Diana battle for Henry’s heart while Elizabeth wonders if she made the right decision to leave her family.
Author Information: Anna Godbersen is the author of the Luxe Series and the Bright Young Things Series for young adults and one novel The Blond for adults. She is from Berkeley California and currently lives in Brooklyn New York.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Booktalk Ideas: 1) Who is you favorite character and why? Do you think this character is a “good” person despite their scheming and are any of the characters really “good” in this book?
2) How does this book compare to modern books and TV shows about social scheming like Gossip Girl or The OC?
Reading Level & Interest Level: This book is listed as being for ages 14-17. I think readers age 18 and up would still enjoy this book when you look at modern shows with this type of drama it appeals to teens of all ages as well as young adults so I would imagine this would have a similar audience.
Challenge Issues: There is one sex scene in the book but it is not graphic and is rather short. Other than that there is not even very much discussion of a sexual nature and certainly nothing graphic. There is also a shooting in the book but it is once again not graphic. Overall there are a few scenes some parents may object to but they are delicately handled and are essential to the plot of the story. This is a pretty popular series and I have not heard of any attempts to challenge or ban it.
Why is it included?: This is a pretty popular series and I thought the potential for tie in with the popular Gossip girls series was interesting. While this is not some great literary work I do think it is a great fun read and would great to promote as a beach/summer read.