Debutantes by Cora Harrison is a romance novel sent to me by the Amazon Vine Programme in exchange for an honest review.
It is really suitable for teenage girls. I cannot imagine a single teenage boy picking this up by choice, or sticking with it if compelled to read it by someone else. It is unashamedly slushy and entirely girl centred. I would recommend it for twelves and up. It would be suitable for younger readers, having nothing more racy than a chaste kiss in it, but the language and the period detail might in turns defeat and/or bore a younger reader who may not have the patience to bear with it.
It tells the story of four impoverished yet aristocratic sisters in Twenties England. They live in a mouldering pile of a manor house with their mostly absent father, who is too busy grieving for their mother to care for them, and a maiden aunt. Each sister is defined by a skill and a ‘look’.
The main character is Daisy, twin to Poppy. Daisy wants to be a film maker, and has been given a camera by her wealthy god father. She wants to make it big in Hollywood so that she can pay for her her older sister Violet to make her debut and have a season in London. Violet deems it necessary to have this. She flicks through Vogue and bemoans her lot and thinks the only way she can save her family and herself from a life of cold water baths and misery is by marrying a rich man she meets during her time as a debutante.
The whole thrust of the book is set to give Violet this opportunity and all the sisters lives are in thrall to it.
If you have read ‘I Capture the Castle’ by Dodie Smith, or ‘Ballet Shoes’ by Noel Streatfield, you will recognise this story as it is basically both plots jammed uncomfortably together with very little skill or thought. The characters are for the most part, badly drawn plot devices. The girls are defined by what they do and what hair colour they have or what clothes they wear. The plot is a mess and has gaping holes in it, and the whole thing drove me crackers.
if you haven’t read ‘I Capture the Castle’ or ‘Ballet Shoes’, you may well love this. I would, however, recommend you read these two books instead, particularly ‘I Capture the Castle’, which is magnificent and lovely. Unlike this book.