Godbersen, Anna. 2009. Envy. HarperCollins. 405 pages.
For a certain kind of New York girl, everything must be always in its place.
I approached Envy by Anna Godbersen with a big old question mark. Would I like it? Would I hate it? Would I love it? You see, I'd read the first book, Luxe, and the second book, Rumors, with two extreme reactions. Loving one and hating the other. If you'd asked me last year if I'd bother picking this one up, I'd have laughed. But after reading this review of Envy over at Bookshelves of Doom, well, I became really really tempted.
They're back: Penelope. Diana. Elizabeth. And the men who love and hate them. Envy is the third in the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. For those unfamiliar (so far) with the series, the books are set in turn-of-the-century New York. (I believe the first two were set circa 1899/1900. And this one is set in the winter/spring of 1900.) The characters are from the wealthy and the supposedly-weathy upper class. Young men and young ladies from the best families. (While marriage is supposed to be the goal in mind, these young ladies tend to indulge their desires and care only slightly about having a pristine reputation.)
There is no way to talk about Envy without spoiling Luxe and Rumors. So please stop reading if you have any interest in picking up this series.
Elizabeth, brokenhearted over the tragic ending of her first (and oh-so-secret) marriage, begins the novel by hiding out from society.
Penelope, ecstatic over the success of her marriage to Henry--never mind the fact that she had to blackmail the groom into saying 'I do'--begins the novel by gloating. Positively gloating over all her frenemies. Of course, the lack of sex is frustrating to her. Poor Penelope, she can't seduce Henry into her bed.
Diana, Elizabeth's younger sister, is frustrated as well. She starts the book off right being royally *issed at Henry for marrying Penelope after not only declaring himself madly, passionately in love with her, but showing her the "proof" of his affection as well. Yes, she's mad that after giving herself body and soul to the man she loves, she's been dumped for the ever-conniving Penelope.
Lina is optimistic, the ever-poser of the bunch, she's thrilled to have found financial backing that will support the lie that she is somebody and that she actually matters.
Henry. Poor Henry. Can't have the woman he loves (that would be Diana). So he's determined not to have the woman he hates. But can he really hold out? Seriously? How long will it be until he gives into his wife's demands for sex?
Teddy, Henry's friend and Elizabeth's would-be knight-in-shining-armor is present for a few scenes as well. Unfortunately, he never seems to do much in these books. I still feel like I know so little about him.
*End of Semi-Spoilers*
The thing I liked best about this one is that it's NOT set in New York for the most part. It's a turn-of-the-century road trip--luxurious train ride and all--bound for Florida's beaches. These characters (and a few more) are all on their way to Florida to vacation. One of the characters that enters into it is Penelope's brother, Grayson, who is being manipulated into being a manipulator. Penelope wants him to pursue Diana.
Here's how Leila summed it up, "So, the whole crew of non-friends heads down to Florida for a vacation where trysts are had, Elizabeth suffers from motion sickness on the train, Teddy makes laser beam eyes of love at Elizabeth, Diana and Henry make laser beam eyes of love at each other and Penelope makes laser beam eyes of death at both of them, Diana keeps losing her shoes, there is sea-bathing, much liquor is tossed back, money is gambled, secrets are found out and Life-Changing Decisions Are Made."
Not only did Envy redeem the mess that was Rumors (in my humble opinion) it made me actually care about the characters. I actually began to like some of them.
One note about the series as a whole. I don't know if I'm the *only* reader who feels like this or not. I could be completely alone. (The same thing bugged me about some of the Twilight books as well.) But I don't like the flash-forward beginnings where you get a glimpse of the ending-to-be. Even if you can't wrap your mind around how all the details will fall into place, I wish I could get there without any "help."
A second note about the series as a whole. I really, really hated one of the fonts used in the books. There is a handwriting font that is supposed to be snooty. I suppose it's to denote the fact that they can all write beautiful calligraphy and use it regularly in all their correspondence. But the thing is, it's the dickens to make out. It's hard to read. And the strain on the eyes is rarely worth it.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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