This four book series for young adults follows the lives and romantic dramas of four girls living in New York in 1899, when lives were determined by whether your family’s money was old or new, and where reputation was everything. Beautiful Elizabeth Holland, who loves a boy her wealthy family will never approve of, her little sister Diana, who defies convention, Elizabeth’s maid, Lina, who loves the same boy and sets out to get him. And Penelope Hayes, Elizabeth’s cruel and beautiful best friend.
When the Elizabeth finds out her family are in serious financial trouble, she is pushed into an engagement with Henry Schoonmaker, a very wealthy man and a bit of a playboy, who Penelope thought was going to ask her to marry him, and she’s furious. Elizabeth wants to run away with her beau, but what will become of her family? Penelope is determined to get Henry back by any means necessary, whilst Henry secretly meets Diana, and starts to fall for her free spirit. Lina, on the other hand, wants to destroy Elizabeth, and might just have the means to do it…
And that’s just the start of the first book!
I came across these and just loved the cover art. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but they’re so pretty and the flowing dresses on them look quite decadent. This series has been compared to The OC and Gossip Girl in old fashioned dresses, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Godbersen really knows how to write, so all her characters are distinct, and though I really loved every minute of reading these, sometimes I had to put them down when I got really mad at one of the bad characters! ha ha! So many twists and turns, just like those TV shows.
I also was really impressed by the way the author evoked the time period so clearly, from the social mores and rules of the time, to the clothing and the social divides between rich and poor. It was so fun to fall into the fantasy of the wealthy, fabulous lives of the time, and the drama and love lives of these characters too. Sometimes I did wish people would stand up to Penelope more, but I never really felt like anyone was stupid. And I found Lina’s journey really interesting. Oh, and the clothes!
I have to say, this is perhaps not my normal reading material. But I actually really got a kick out of it, and I think some of you will too.
Read It If: you love romance and major drama in beautiful dresses, I think OC and Gossip Girl types will enjoy.