Well… At least the dress on the cover is totally hawt.
I was expecting a lot from this book, which is probably why it was so damn disappointing. I don’t know… it wasn’t poorly written, per se, but I just wasn’t sure who I was supposed to be rooting for. Even when the plot got cooking, it was hard to enjoy. It just lacked the retro-riffic irony that the Sweet Valley books have in spades. Instead, it just kind of comes off as shallow and pretentious. You know, in a bad way.
Here are the main characters:
- Elizabeth Holland, who I guess is supposed to be the “good” sister here, but is actually kind of a bitch. While she is supposedly “known not only for her loveliness but also for her moral character,” I found her to be seriously off-putting. For example, she actually gets ANNOYED with her poor lady’s maid for wearing such a dowdy uniform. Umm, Liz, if you would pay the girl more than five bucks a week, she would probably go out and buy herself something a bit sexier.
- Diana Holland, who is supposed to be all free-spirited and shit, but really comes off as more idiotic than anything else. I guess we’re supposed to believe she’s free-spirited because… um… I don’t know. Because everybody says so? Whatever.
- Penelope Hayes, everyone’s favorite naughty girl. I have to say that I was sort of into Penelope–she’s an unrepentant ho who knows what she wants and will do almost anything to get it. She’s sort of this book’s version of Blair Waldorf, who I have a special place in my heart for. In fact, the more I think about it, the more similar they really are. They’re both striking brunettes with a flair for fashion and seemingly no capacity to feel guilt. Hmmm….
So, those are all the rich–I mean, IMPORTANT people. Now let’s talk about the worthless underlings…
- Will, the Holland’s stable boy, who is basically a cardboard cut-out that stands in place where a well-developed character should be. Seriously, does this guy actually have a personality? I see him as more of a lower-class Ken doll. The only reason we care about him at all is because Elizabeth is hot in her pantaloons for him. Otherwise, he’d be just another annoying poor person.
- Lina, Elizabeth’s lady’s maid, who is supposed to be all bitter and stuff, but who I really kind of liked. She was the only one who I was remotely interested in seeing succeed. She’s smart, rebels against her crappy social status, and isn’t afraid to pour hot tea on people who piss her off. That’s my kind of girl. Also, she talks about how “obscene” it is that the Hollands will drop a thousand bucks on a dress, while it would take Lina and her sister about a decade to save up that much money. Go on, Lina. Fight the power. She’s also in love with Will, though I guess I can forgive her for that since she remarks that Will only loves Elizabeth because of her money and her dazzling dresses.
Anyway, I wish I could say that this book was deliciously dishy and salacious, but in fact, it sort of sucked. You get some sweet Lina action as she bristles against class constraints, but then you also get way too much crap about how poor people are just sort of groddy and annoying to the eyes. Elizabeth is particularly bad about this. I just sort of wanted to punch all the characters in the face at one point or another, even my girl Lina (for falling for stupid Will).
Basically, this book is just another novel aimed at teen girls that plays on the age-old struggle between conformity and individuality. It’s a hard struggle (Ginny Lu Culpepper knows what I’m talking about) but I would personally rather see the spunky, smart, individualistic underdogs succeed rather than have the high-class bitches be put up on an undeserved pedestal and idolized. This novel takes itself really seriously, unlike the Sweet Valley books or even more current selections like the Gossip Girl series.
In the next couple of weeks, I may try to get through the next Luxe book, Rumours, and see if things get any better. I have my doubts, but my standards are set really low, so maybe that will help.