Yes, we're back to this: the books with the pretty girls and dresses on the cover that are basically turn-of-the-century (nineteenth to twentieth) versions of the Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars books. Why? Because they're delicious, that's why. I'm not saying they're literature, but then, this isn't a blog about high literature (most of the time; I do get a tad literary every now and then, I suppose). This is a blog about books I read and whether or not I like them, and this fits that! So.
Rumors is Godbersen's second Luxe novel, following the events of The Luxe. It picks up in the months following Elizabeth Holland's "death," and we learn what her family, friends and frenemies, and Elizabeth herself have been up to. Diana has been torn from Henry by the tragedy of her sister's disappearance, because it would be unseemly for her to be seen cavorting about with her "dead" sister's fiance, no matter how they actually feel about each other. Henry also feels their separation keenly but isn't really able to do much about it. Meanwhile, Penelope has managed to turn herself into the picture of the perfect young woman in an attempt to snare Henry once more--he's now up for grabs, after all, since Elizabeth has vanished. And then there's Lina, who's living the high life off the money Penelope gave her for the Holland secrets, but is starting to worry about it running low.
This isn't a very eventful book. Most of it really involves Diana worrying about her mother's health and the family's declining fortunes while trying to manage to get back together with Henry somehow, Penelope also trying to get Henry, and Lina trying to figure out how to not only continue living in the style she has become accustomed to, but also how to become an "accepted" young lady in New York. The main drama comes from the continuing tension between Diana and Henry and the buying and selling of secrets by several parties; indeed, secrets more than currency appear to be the actual currency of the Holland, Hayes, and Schoonmaker's social sets at this point. There are a few chapters with Elizabeth, but she's so removed from the real drama of New York that her part isn't particularly interesting until the end.
The most frustrating part of this book for me, though, was not the lack of real forward movement, but the stupidity that some of the characters seem to suffer all the time. I'm not sure why it had to be such a secret that Elizabeth was still alive, and what she had done, once the story actually started to get out on its own. Diana might have very well been able to tell Henry, avoiding that whole problem, and if Penelope was going to tear the Hollands down using that secret, well, her complicity in the whole matter would have meant they could drag her down with them. Godbersen tries to pin it all on Mrs. Holland's emphasis on family honor, but honestly they're all so much in the muck at this point that it really shouldn't have mattered.
Still. This book is the print equivalent of a period teen drama on TV, and basically that means that you're expected to look past any plot holes like those mentioned above and just enjoy the dramatic tension. I did enjoy it, but not as much as I enjoyed The Luxe. Still, I want to finish the series...which means I'm going to have to request paperbacks from the library, because they only have The Luxe and Rumors in e-book form. Sigh.
3 stars out of 5.