Rumors is the second in Godbersen's Luxe series. There is no way to review this book without spoilers from the first book (but there are no spoilers for Rumors). If you haven't read the first book, start with my review of The Luxe and then skip the first two paragraphs here.
Two months after Elizabeth Holland's funeral, the New York social scene starts to pick up again as the century draws to a close. Mrs. Holland has now pinned all her financial hopes on her remaining daughter, Diana. Meanwhile, two members of Elizabeth's inner circle have been busy remaking themselves in her image. Penelope Hayes, with the help of the current Mrs. Schoonmaker, is shedding her old persona so she can be ready the moment Henry comes out of mourning for his fiancée. Carolina Broud, the ex-personal maid, is working equally hard to become the lady she thinks Will Keller desires.
Tales of Elizabeth's kidnapping and reports of her being sighted are the fodder of high-society gossipmongers, but only Diana and Penelope know the truth. As the Hollands' fortune continues to dwindle, Diana begins to panic, and she sends a telegram that will have widespread repercussions.
Rumors contains several well-paced, interconnecting, and converging story lines, and Penelope Hayes is at the center of most of them. Carolina's story is particularly interesting, and it's not clear if she truly understands what she's doing and whom to trust. The plot is complex and keeps you riveted clear to the end.
The cast of characters—from the sleazy Lord & Taylor clerk to the mysterious Mr. Snowden—are three-dimensional and hold true to their personalities. You want to strangle some and offer much-needed guidance to others.
There are fewer historical details in Rumors than there were in The Luxe. But we were so well introduced to 1899 New York City in the first book that further elaboration wasn't really necessary or missed.
At the end the novel, I was definitely left wanting to know more about these families. Fortunately, Envy has already been published and Splendor is in the works.
I listened to this book via digital download from my library. It was read by Nina Siemaszko, who also narrated The Luxe. Siemaszko makes this an engaging listen.
Anna Godbersen has a website with news, a blog, downloads, and more.
Print published by HarperCollins, 2008
Audio publisher Harper Audio, 2008
Challenges: Support Your Library, Young Adult, 999, 100+