I've been MIA around Blog World for almost two weeks...apologies all around. I *tried* reading Elphame's Choice by P.C. Cast, but just couldn't get into it like I'd hoped. Still, I gave it the ole college try--more than 100 pages and 3 days and still nope, just not into it. So I skimmed it and went on to one I *really* wanted to read: Splendor by Anna Godbersen. I actually finished it a couple of days ago but just got around to writing the review tonight. My brain's been on Thanksgiving break! Anyway, below is the review I just posted to Amazon:
Splendor brings Anna Godbersen's Luxe series to a close, and what a tremendous ending it is! All the loose threads are tied up, but not always so neatly; the four main young women find that life doesn't always give you what you thought you wanted, but you've got to make peace with yourself no matter what. Splendor is told in alternating chapters that focus on each of the young women and takes them through the trials that will ultimately lead them to that peace, whatever it is.
The book opens with Diana Holland having traveled (alone in 1900!) to Havana in search of love Henry Schoonmaker, who has joined the army in order to escape his shrew of a wife, Penelope. While the young lovers are reunited, Penelope herself starts to realize that maybe she was too hasty in marrying Henry, and sets her eye on on a Bavarian prince who is looking lustfully back at her. Meanwhile, both Elizabeth Holland and Carolina Broad have achieved contentment: Elizabeth has married her father's business partner in order to give her unborn child a name, and Carolina's past as a maid is firmly behind her as she falls in love with the handsome Leland. Of course none of this flows smoothly, and all of the young women are subjected to tragedies of varying degrees.
In this final installment, Ms. Godbersen does the remarkable: she allows her characters to achieve a sense of maturity without being preachy or giving them fairy tale endings. The deceit that all of them have practiced is dealt with, but there is no moral high ground. Instead, I felt they were all so identifiable, because let's face it: pretty young women do have faults and some conquer those faults while others do not. It's all about what you are willing to live with.
Ms. Godbersen filled Splendor with fashion and romance, betrayal and reconciliation, and it could not have been a more fitting ending to this series. My one problem with the storyline applies to Diana, and it is only because of her previous infatuation that I have a hard time believing she wasn't up to the task. However, I could still see her achieving something far more exciting with her life, so even though I found her decision out of character, I can let it go, and even give kudos to Ms. Godbersen for not being pat in wrapping up my favorite storyline of the four. I would actually rate Splendor 4.5 stars, but my enjoyment of the series as a whole prompts me to round up to the full five. Truly an enjoyable ride.