I think the book Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar is similar to my independent novel, The Luxe by Anna Godbersen because they are both based off of greed and money. Whenever the characters want something another person has, they are willing to sabotage other people’s lives, friendships, and even their lives. Even though there is about 120 years separating the stories, it is all based off the same idea, “I want it, she has it, and I’ll get it”.
When Penolope decides to plot against Elizabeth, she is extremely jealous of what the other girl has and is willing to do anything for it, “Angry doesn’t even begin to describe it. Henry was mine…But I know how to fix it. I’m going to ruin you Liz.” If put in the same position many of the characters in Gossip Girl have and would do the same thing. If we all had this mentality, most of us would be very lonely.
Another reason the two books are similar is because they are set in the glamorous part of New York City. Even though times have changed and the “Enchanted Parallelogram” from The Luxe has been forgotten with time, and now the modern girls of Gossip Girl are living on the East Side of Manhattan, their life styles haven’t changed all that much. Except for culture changes on what is acceptable and what is expected of you, the girls are all raised pretty much the same and all act the same. They all go out partying every night until dawn, whether it is a ball in 1900 or the hottest night club in Soho; going shopping at Lord and Taylors dress shop on the “Ladies Mile” or going to designer stores; they all have the same basis- money.
The author of The Luxe, Anna Godbersen, is trying to prove the point that “All is fair in love and war” with greed mixed in. They say that the Victorian age was an age of indulgence for the rich and that it was “the gilded age”, and this book proves it in ways that a social studies book.
Throughout the book, Elizabeth is pulled between the love of her family and their safety and the love of her true love, Will. First, when Henry proposes to her and what it would mean for her family. They could be safe again, and she would be comfortable. Then her mind went to how she would feel with Will, how she did feel with Will, and how comfortable she was in his world even though she was raised to enjoy the finer things in life. “Only that morning she had fantasized about marrying Will. Will, whom she knew and loved… She tried to picture her mothers face when she told her that she was in love with the coachman… Elizabeth closed her eyes for a moment, imagining the consequences of accepting Henry’s proposal… She was shocked at what she saw: her life as a Schoonmaker looked quite… grand. She pictured her mother’s face, which had been so scrunched with worry … She saw what had always come easy and natural to her- being gracious and admired and well dressed… (110-111) “
Greed was also a driving force in this book. Her goal in life was to be beautiful, marry someone equally beautiful, live grandly, and be the envy of all others. This idea of a perfect life even drove her to “kill” her best friend Elizabeth so she could marry a man that did not love her.
In my novel, The Luxe, there were some things that enjoyed about how it was written, and some things that I wish I could change.
Personally, I love how the story was told in multiple first person views. It helped me fully understand the characters actions and ideas of each other. Because we can see inside the characters minds, we can understand why Penelope blackmails Elizabeth, why Elizabeth ran off, or why Penelope was in love with Henry. If we only saw it from one point of view, I know I would be confused about how these people claim to be friends, but all hate each other.
Another thing about how the book is written is that it gives you many visual details. You can envision the rooms they are sitting in, what clothes they’re wearing, or what they are seeing as they drive through turn of the 21st century New York City. Whenever I read this book, I have a little movie going through my mind.
A thing that I don’t like about how this book was written was how malicious people were to each other. We all know that rivalries occur over money, status, and guys; and that books need to be over dramatized to capture the reader, but this book has crossed a line. The fact that these people are willing to commit crimes to get a simple thing of no importance bothers me.
The book ends on a happy note for all the characters, even though it leaves many loose ends. I like the ending because Diana decides that “Elizabeth really was the more romantic sister… She left her home to find her one true love (page 430)”. As a fan of happy endings for good people I was very satisfied with the ending.
My independent reading book, The Luxe, is told from several points of view: there is Elizabeth Holland, the sweet girl who has to pass up love out of duty for her family; Diana Holland, the girl with a taste for adventure and who falls in love with Elizabeth’s’ fiancé; Penelope Hayes, the self centered girl who is out to get Elizabeth’s fiancé to make others jealous; Lina Broud, the former servant of Elizabeth who is out to win Elizabeth’s true love at any cost; and finally Henry Schoonmaker, the ladies man. To understand why each character does the things they do for love, you must hear their sides of the story. If we only heard one side, we would never fully understand the characters. Henry’s opinion of his affair with Penelope is that “He couldn’t help but snort at the idea of marrying her… ‘I haven’t met a girl I could think so seriously about yet’”. His opinion of Elizabeth, whom he is being forced to marry isn’t any better either “…she was one of them. A rule-follower, a tea sipper, a sender of embossed thank you notes…” Truthfully, the only person he did seem to like was Diana, Elizabeth’s sister. We learn he finds her interesting and different from the other girls. Elizabeth is facing her own dilemmas also. She feels “comfortable” in Will’s world, but is forced to marry Henry for the sake of her family. She chose to marry him because” …she saw what her life would be like. Her life would be grand…” Lina has her own opinions of Elizabeth also: “she could not hate her… she could not… Elizabeth had always been her model on how to be, a glimmer of hope that she wouldn’t always live such a simple life…” The most twisted point of view in the book though, by far, is Penelope’s. She comes across as caring and sweet when you are friends with her, but when you see inside her mind, you realize how vain she really is. She sets out to ruin others lives just so she could marry Henry Schoonmaker to watch all the other New Yorkers to “die of envy”. She plots, bribes, and ruins others to push her up higher.