Author: Cora Harrison
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (2nd April 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.
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Debutantes by Cora Harrison is a stand-alone novel that tells the story of the Derrington sisters. They live in Beech Grove Manor with their father, aunt and a skeleton of staff, as the Derringtons have very little money. Violet is almost eighteen and dreams of being a Debutante and marrying well; her younger sisters have different dreams.
Debutantes is not a story to read if you like a lot to happen, because not much does. The main thrust of the plot revolves around the fact that Violet is coming of age and by rights should have a coming-out party but the family is too poor to do so. There are several schemes by the sisters to try to achieve this goal. There is also a subplot woven through the book; Daisy, by chance, comes across a piece of paper which holds the key to a dangerous secret.
Harrison does a good job at making all four sisters unique, both in terms of looks and of personality. All four sisters feel like unique characters, though I found Daisy to feel the most real but this was probably due to the fact that Daisy was in many ways the protagonist of the book. Harrison brilliantly paints the world the Derrington sisters live in at both their country home and in London. I didn’t notice any obvious historical inaccuracies, but then the 1920s isn’t a period I know much about. If you are looking for a fun, uncomplicated read and like historical fiction then you should definitely consider this book.