Debutantes by Cora Harrison, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 2nd August 2012
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.
The 1920s are hot at the moment and there are plenty of books and films coming out at the moment which are set during this decade. ‘Debutantes’ by Cora Harrison is one of them and follows four sisters, Violet, Daisy, Poppy and Rose, as they try to make their mark on the world away from their closeted lives at Beech Grove Manor..
I have to start by saying that this book has a simply stunning cover! It’s so pretty that it’s sure to catch the eye when it’s on the shelves in bookshops. For those who love their cover art then this is definitely one for you.
Having read ‘Wentworth Hall’ by Abby Grahame quite recently, I found that this book was in a very similar vein, but that’s good because I loved the former! Much of the story is told through the eyes of Daisy who has ambitions to become a film-director. She feels responsible for her other sisters and much of her focus is on ensuring that Violet gets to become a debutante. The girls are in the precarious position of being female and therefore unable to inherit their father’s property. They instead have to try and secure their own futures, through marriage or a career.
A secondary storyline develops during the second-half of the book which focuses on Daisy herself. I found this a little bit too predictable and the twist was never really a big surprise. It’s teased at throughout but it seemed pretty obvious to me as I was reading what was going to happen.
I enjoyed all the description and detail of the period which gave me real insight into the type of lives that the characters led, from the servants to the rich and wealthy of society. The division between the two is quite stringent but there are some instances where the lines become blurred. I felt transported back to this particular era and particularly enjoyed all the wonderful passages about the fashions and dresses of the time.
‘Debutantes’ was a charming read which I really enjoyed. It’s light and summery and the perfect book to make you smile when you turn the final page. It is, I believe, the first in a new series by Cora Harrison so I shall look forward to seeing what the characters get up to next.