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Anna Godbersen – Splendor

January 27, 2010

8. Splendor by Anna Godbersen (2009)
Luxe Novels, Book 4

Read my review of book:
1. The Luxe
2. Rumors
3. Envy

Length: 392 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Started: 18 January 2010
Finished: 20 January 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I’ve read the rest of the series, and my reading attention has been limited lately, so something light and fluffy fit the bill.

Amidst the pretty
dresses, lives get ruined, and
loves get lost and found.

Summary: As Splendor opens, all of the characters are adjusting to the changes that life had thrust upon them by the end of Envy. Henry has enlisted as a soldier in order to prove himself a man, not realizing that there are some battles in that war that can only be fought at home. Diana has slipped the shackles of high society to follow her heart towards the man she loves. Elizabeth is still grieving for Will, but is adjusting to the thought of her life as a society wife and young mother. Carolina is now a legitimate heiress, but money on its own does not guarantee acceptance into the glittering world she covets. And Penelope, having obtained the title of Mrs. Henry Schoonmaker through deception and manipulation, has now set her sights on an even higher tier of the social ladder.

Review: Pure literary candy, plain and simple. I feel like I got tired of the antics of the teenaged socialite set of the Luxe novels about a book and a half ago, and yet something about them keeps me reading. I don’t know whether I was interested to see how Godbersen was going to wrap things up, in need of a little escapism into a world of high society and fancy dress balls and scandalous behavior, or just looking for a book that didn’t require too much higher cognitive functioning on my part. Probably all three.

It’s been a while since I’ve read The Luxe, so I can’t say for sure, but I have the impression that Godbersen’s language has gotten more and more overblown with each subsequent book. The abundance of frothy description of every dress and piece of furnishing has been there since the beginning, but the narrative seems to have become more self-important and serious. At least the “lichen-colored eyes” and “bee-stung lips” only made one or two appearances this time around, although it drove me a little crazy that the characters tended to be thinking about *themselves* in that way.

I wasn’t aware of this when I started out, but Splendor is the last book in the Luxe series, and Godbersen does a good job of wrapping up threads that she’s been juggling since the beginning. Either she planned out her characters’ fates well in advance, or she made it seem as though she did, and to maneuver everyone into an ending that is satisfactory without seeming overly contrived is no mean feat. I also want to applaud her for not taking the easy way out with some of her plotting choices – the directions she took made things much more interesting and less predictable, which I appreciated. Overall, I’m left content – not bowled over, and not clammoring to start re-reading from the beginning, but content. In truth, I don’t ask for much more than fluffy, easy-to-read entertainment out of books like these, and on that scale, I got what I came for. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Splendor doesn’t stand on its own, but it is a satisfying conclusion to the series. I’d recommend the Luxe books in general to anyone whose taste in guilty-pleasure escapist fluff tends towards silks and scandalous secrets.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bloody Bookaholic, Insert Book Title Here, Marjolein Book Blog, Peaceful Reader, Queen of Happy Endings, YA Reads
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Fifty years ago, every American girl wanted to be a European princess.

Cover Thoughts: Lina finally gets her turn on the cover. The purple doesn’t quite have the ooomph of Rumors‘s red dress, but it’s still pretty.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 72: “He was one of the favorite sons of the tribe that filled the parterre boxes at the opera, and so she knew that tonight, at his side, she was the girl to surreptitiously observe.” – the rear section of seats, and sometimes also the side sections, of the main floor of a theater, concert hall, or opera house; also called parquet circle.
  • p. 240: “The elaborate dress had already been under construction for ____________, but it had not been intended as a wedding dress, and so in the last twenty-four hours black netting had been painstakingly removed from the full, flouncing skirt and replaced with ecru point de gaze.” – a needlepoint lace in which delicate floral designs are sewn onto a net ground.
  • p. 269: “All of him was long and horselike, and his far-reaching legs were crossed in the manner of a seasoned flaneur.” – idler; dawdler; loafer.
10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2010 2:19 am

    I’ve quite enjoyed this series for its pure escapism and frivolity as well. I call it the Gossip Girl of a century ago, which seems to fit the bill, I think. Splendor has actually been sitting on my to-read pile for awhile now, but I think I’m nearly ready to indulge thanks to your review. :)

    • January 27, 2010 11:18 am

      Natalie – I don’t watch Gossip Girl, but you’re not the first person I’ve heard make that comparison. I hope you enjoy Splendor as much as the rest of them!

  2. January 27, 2010 8:44 am

    You’re not the first person I’ve seen refer to this series as “candy,” but I’m just not convinced it’s for me.

    • January 27, 2010 11:19 am

      bermudaonion – That’s probably true; it’s only for me when I’m in a certain mood.

  3. January 27, 2010 12:17 pm

    Ha! I still haven’t figured out what compelled me to finish the series. I got really tired of it, but I just wanted to know what happened. I assume it’s like a soap opera that way. Here are my luxe reviews.

    • January 31, 2010 6:44 pm

      Melissa – I’ve never gotten into any daytime soaps, so I can’t say for sure. My guess as to why they’re so addicting? Pages coated in crack.

  4. January 29, 2010 7:12 pm

    I want to read this series eventually.

  5. January 31, 2010 9:25 am

    this sounds like a good series, I enjoy historical fiction and do tend to enjoy a good fluffy read once in a while!
    Great review :)

    • January 31, 2010 6:45 pm

      bookworm – I bet you’ll be hooked by the first book, just like I was.

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