Sunday, 16 September 2012

Debutantes by Cora Harrison (Young Adult, Historical, 10/10)

August 2012, MacMillan Children's Books
310 pages, Paperback
Review copy

Themes: 1920s life, debutantes, the trials of being poor, sisterhood, family mystery, adapting old clothes, the film industry, being among royalty, having to marry for wealth rather than love, strict social rules, having freedom in a more relaxed atmosphere, friendly maids, persuing dreams, maturing, lots of humour, courtship with nothing inappropriate

Summary from Pan MacMillan
A gorgeous historical romance, perfect for fans of Downton Abbey
It’s 1923 and London is a whirl of jazz, dancing and parties. Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose Derrington are desperate to be part of it, but stuck in an enormous crumbling house in the country, with no money and no fashionable dresses, the excitement seems a lifetime away.

Luckily the girls each have a plan for escaping their humdrum country life: Rose wants to be a novelist, Poppy a jazz musician and Daisy a famous film director. Violet, however, has only one ambition: to become the perfect Debutante, so that she can go to London and catch the eye of Prince George, the most eligible bachelor in the country. 

But a house as big and old as Beech Grove Manor hides many secrets, and Daisy is about to uncover one so huge it could ruin all their plans- ruin everything - forever.

Nayuleska's thoughts
I love this book! I've read a few based in the 1920s, which I liked but couldn't fully like the girls as they did outrageous things I couldn't identify with. Daisy and her sisters are a different story.

There's no going out to bars and clubs or illicit meetings. The bond of sistership remains strong and palpable throughout the story, even when family secrets are revealed. Each sister is different in character, yet they suit each other. They all have dreams and are prepared to work hard to attain them. The dreams are quite different: a debutante (Violet's dream) wouldn't dream of being in the film industry (Daisy's dream) with less savoury acquaintences or in the Jazz world (Poppy's ambitions which also had less socially accepted individuals in it. Rose is a sweetie, enthusiastic about life yet still relatively young compared to her older sisters.

All four are the centre of attention in the story, I loved watching opportunities arise for them and the joy of ordinary life with smatterings of the extraordinary. Who wouldn't want to find clothes in a trunk in the attic which sets about a real mystery? As ever I'm in love with the array of costumes which sound delightful in this 10/10 read.

You can find out more on Cora's website.

Suggested read
For a book with a similar historical feel, try The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

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