Which is why this book captured my attention in 'Smiths.
"All of the glitz of The O.C. but with bigger frocks and more dashing boys" cried the endorsement from Elle.
Hmm, I thought, pausing by the bookshelf. I did love The O.C (seasons 1 and 4) and I love big frocks...
I turned it over to peruse the meager blurb:
Imagine if you will,
New York City, 1899...
Society's elite: the glamour, the grandeur, the glittering parties, the most handsome beaux, the most beautiful debutantes... the rich girl, the humble boy, the forbidden love, the stolen glances, the whispers, the scandal, the mystery, the revenge.
The concept - Wharton meets Gossip Girl - appeared to be targeting the Young Adult market. No problem. As I mentioned, escapism was key, and nothing beats the angst of a good YA romance.
Did it do the trick?
Well, yes. Sometimes, a disconcertingly large font, two dimensional characters, transparent plotting, pretty dresses and soap operatic levels of melodrama can work their magic on a mentally tired and restless reader.
So in the spirit of the novel - which is ridiculous, let's be clear - I'm going to do a dramatic review. (Props to this site, for the idea).
The Luxe: a review in four parts
Cast of Characters
Little Sister Swann (Diana)
Will, the poor but *OMG Totally Hot* Stableboy
Lena, Elizabeth's sullen maid
Henry Schoonmaker "The baddest bad boy in New York...'
Evil Brunette, Penelope Hayes
Her Sidekick, the gay BFF
Greek Chorus of Elizabeth's Male Admirers
Pictoral representation of New York society c. 1899
PART 1: ELIZABETH'S FUNERAL
What a tragedy that someone as young and beautiful and pure and good as Elizabeth should die under TRAGIC and MYSTERIOUS circumstances
Oh, how we loved Elizabeth. She was so beautiful and pure and kind and good.
But why is Elizabeth's younger sister smiling?
DUN DUN DUN
PART TWO: PENELOPE'S BALL, 5 WEEKS EARLIER
Elizabeth, I want you to dance with all the rich boys, however repulsive you might find them. Yes, even that cross-eyed Percy with his poisonous breath and groping hands.
Because I am a doormat with no personality or strength of character, I will do as you say, even though I love Will, the totally hot but poor stableboy
My ball is a success! Very soon my plan to conquer New York society will be complete, and I will be more popular than Elizabeth Swann, who is my best friend though I secretly despise her. I will marry Henry, the baddest boy in New York, and together we will rule the city! MUHAHAHA!
You go, girl
*smoking ciggerette* Sigh, I am far too cool and unconventional for this place. Kiss me, random handsome stranger!
Nope. Nothing. Will I ever fall in love?!
LATER THAT NIGHT
Life is so monotonous and dull. I need a drink
You are a disappointment as a son and a human being. To make up for your complete uselessness, you will marry Elizabeth Swann, for reasons that make little sense but serve the purpose of the story.
Elizabeth is so boring and pure. Also, I'm totally boning her best friend Penelope.
I will cut off your allowance!
Jeez! Okay, I'll do it!
PART THREE: THE SWANN MANSION
Oh, how I hate my crappy, low wage job as lady's maid to that stupid Elizabeth Swann. But oh, how I love Will, the beautiful stableboy.
Wait, what's Elizabeth doing in the stables in the middle of the night?
I love you, Will! Let's do it, but it won't mean anything because I am rich and posh, and you are a stable boy
Let's run away together. We can go to the West and be ranchers!
See above. But, let's totally have sex anyway.
A CLANDESTINE MEETING
Let's have some skanky villain sex and talk about our future together as King and Queen of Manhatten.
Do you love me?
What is this love you speak of? I want world domination!!!
I need a drink.
PART 4: THE ENGAGEMENT
You must marry Henry or else we will be POOR!
Okay. (Note to self: don't tell Will)
Psst, Will! Elizabeth is totally marrying Henry!
Elizabeth, even thought I think you're boring and bland, will you marry me?
Sure. I guess.
LATER, THE SAME DAY
I really need a drink. Hey, why are you wearing my hat?
Because I am daring and bohemian! Kiss me!
Finally - a tingling in my groin! I think I'm in love!
Diana is so daring and bohemian. I think I love her. But I must marry her boring sister or my allowance will be cut
Even though I love Will, I will marry Henry for the sake of my family
Even though I love Elizabeth, I must go to California and seek my fortune. But first, I will leave her letter in case she wants to join me.
She will never see this letter! Will will be mine!
REVENGE WILL BE MINE!
I'll stop there, in case you actually want to read the book and find out for yourselves how these tangled and emotionally complex story lines are resolved.
One thing's for certain: I can't wait to read Rumors!