A big, sumptuous tale of catty girls, dark secrets and windswept romance unfurls in this compulsively readable novel of late-19th-century New York City socialites. Godbersen weaves a tenuous web of deceit, backstabbing and pretense that follows four teens: Elizabeth Holland, a prim and proper lady of old-money society, is betrothed to one man, though furtively loves another; Henry Schoonmaker, a debauched playboy who must marry Elizabeth or be disinherited; Diana Holland, Elizabeth’s younger sister who is in love with her fiancé; and Penelope Hayes, a member of the nouveau riche who will stop at nothing to win Henry’s affections. As Elizabeth and Henry’s wedding approaches, the spectacle unfolds in a wondrously grandiose scene, making for a fun, though not entirely unexpected dénouement. A delicious new twist along the Gossip Girl vein, readers will clamor for this sharp, smart drama of friends, lovers, lies and betrayal.
Elizabeth is the beautiful good girl, the perfect lady, the only thing wrong is that she's dead. That's how the story opens, with Elizabeth's obituary on the newspapers. The only thing we know is that she died on the day she was supposed to be wed and it was a suspicious death.
Penelope Hayes, the bad and sexy girl of society who can't get enough of the wealthy Henry Schoonmaker, is Elizabeth's best friend. But in a world were status is everything, what really defines the term best friends?
Diana Holland, Elizabeth's younger sister and very opposite of her. She's the mischievous little sister who follows her heart instead of logic.
Lina Broud, the servant girl who wants to be more. Forming dangerous alliances, she's the one to look out for.
Henry Schoonmaker, the young and most wanted bachelor of all of New York, the ladies can't seem to get enough of him.
These are the five characters whose voice and point of view is seen throughout this book.
This novel is as juicy and scandalous as the synopsis says. The details of the story and the descriptions are just so amazing and beautiful, I feel like I'm right in the setting. I wish I had the dress Elizabeth is wearing in the cover and every dress ever talked about in this book, it's like the fairy tale society you wish you were born in. It only further convinces me that I was born in the wrong era.
Anyways, the plot is engaging from the first page. I loved how it takes you from seeing the end first and then you read what happened before, the structure of the novel was very unique and fun. The plot kept me turning pages as fast as I could and the leading men are just delicious.
The characters, even though the story is divided in 5 different MCs, are well developed and unique. They all had a different voice and their personalities are very pronounced. From the mischievous Diana Holland to the good girl Elizabeth Holland, all characters have a certain something that makes you love them. Even the forever confusing, forever intriguing Henry Schoonmaker.
I can't wait until I get the next book!
In one sentence:
A story that makes you wish you were back in 19th century New York.
And as part of my improving my reviews, I'm going to give stars in a more detailed way.
Plot: 4 stars
Characters: 5 stars
Cover: 4.5 stars
Writing: 5 stars
Overall Feeling: 4.5 stars
Average: 4.6 stars