Splendor is the fourth and final book in the YA historical Luxe series by Anna Godbersen.
I'm probably way behind here - I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of you have already devoured this novel a long time ago. Well, I just got the chance to read it and I was thrilled. Because, even though I haven't reviewed the first three books on my blog here, I am a big fan of the Luxe series and have been dying to find out how it'll all end.
So, if you haven't read the first three books in the Luxe series yet (The Luxe, Rumors, Envy) then go check them out and please avoid this review. Because the best part of the series is not knowing what's going to happen next, so don't ruin that for yourself!
Okay, so Envy left us in quite precarious situations for our various 1900s characters. Good girl Elizabeth retained her good girl reputation by marrying a friend of her deceased father's, therefore keeping her pregnancy with her servant-turned-husband respectable. She is floored by her new husband's kindness and understanding, and tries to be content despite her continued mourning of Will in the reminder of the child she carries. But Elizabeth inadvertently stumbles across some of her father's old documents and she begins to have questions.
Penelope, the manipulative wife of rich and handsome Henry Schoonmaker, left us with a surprising announcement of continuing the Schoonmaker line with her brand new pregnancy - made all the more surprising since it was a complete lie. But she had to do something to try and keep Henry by her side and build the life she always hoped for with him. But Henry could not be deterred from joining active duty to try and make himself worthy of the woman who truly loves, Elizabeth's sister Diana.
Diana decided to embrace her impetuous nature and leave the confines of high society to chase after Henry, going so far as to chop off her famed curls and try to join the army with him. It has the makings of an adventurous love story, after all - and that is the sort of novel life Diana strives for.
And Elizabeth's former ladies' maid Lina Broud stopped pretending to be the rich Carolina Broad and actually inherited real wealth. But will she be able to keep up the deception?
So, that is a quick overview of where we left off - though it lacks the surprising depth that Anna Godbersen brings to all these storylines. But if you have read the first three in the series (as I hope you have if you've read this far into the review), then you know what I mean and I don't need to convince you otherwise.
I was more than happy to jump back into the scandalous, deceptive, dramatic, lovely, romantic lives of the Luxe - and it wasn't hard to do. I was instantly bombarded, in the best way, with new twists and turns and alluring plots. Splendor is like its predecessors in the series, in that it continues the trend of being addictive, yet somehow grounded. Anna Godbersen expertly mixes soapy love triangles, lies, and shocks with a vulnerability and believability that is incredible and makes the series truly worth the read.
Splendor is unendingly suspenseful with its unexpected turn of events and presents us with smart, unique, fully imagined characters that you can love or love to hate. And without going into any details that could ruin someone else's experience of the novel, I can honestly say that as it barreled to its stunning, climatic conclusion, I found Splendor to be spine-tinglingly, goosebump-inducingly perfect!!!
It is both beautifully, rapturously romantic and utterly satisfying. Anna Godbersen wrapped up the series not with a perfectly tied bow, but instead with multilayered, bittersweet, varied ends. Each character was given a follow-up that gelled so fantastically with life and its ups and downs, providing some with a sad finale, and others were a happy one - that I was floored by the complete lack of cliches.
Despite the Luxe series being at its core a book of balls and forbidden romances and different levels of society in 1900s New York, entertaining and shocking and fun, it also managed to inspire me and impress me as it came to a close. And it only made me all the more excited to read Godbersen's next series Bright Young Things!