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The Debutante: A Novel by Kathleen Tessaro
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The Debutante: A Novel (edition 2010)

by Kathleen Tessaro

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11911101,247 (3.59)None
Member:milana2012
Title:The Debutante: A Novel
Authors:Kathleen Tessaro
Info:William Morrow Paperbacks (2010), Edition: Original, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro

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Disappointing - as often it is when I enjoy one book by the author and then try to read earlier books that she/he wrote. ( )
  MargaretdeBuhr | Dec 28, 2013 |
Deeply absorbing ( )
  applessixeleven | Oct 12, 2013 |
Endsleigh House stands, crumbling and gracious, on the south-west coast of England, its rooms shut up and dusty. But what secrets do they hold? Cate, an exile from New York, is sent to help value the contents of the once-grand Georgian house. Cataloguing its' contents with Jack - a man with his own dark past, she comes across a hidden shoebox containing an exquisite pair of dancing shoes from the 1930s, along with a mysterious collection of objects: a photograph, a dance card and a Tiffany bracelet.Returning to London, rather than face the questions lingering in her own life, Cate immerses herself in piecing together the clues contained in the box to uncover a story, that of Irene Blythe and her sister Diana - two of the most famous debutantes of their generation.The tale that unfolds is one of dark, addictive love, and leads Cate to face up to secrets of her own. Can the secrets of Baby Blythe's past change Cate's own ability to live and love again?

My Thoughts:

This is what I would call a comfort book. A heartwarming story that is perfect to curl up with.

The story is told in the present with snippets to the past told in the form of letters. I found that there was enough in the book to hold my interest to the end and I wanted to turn the pages to see what was going to happen. I did find the ending quite sweet and one could say a little predictable but in this type of book I wouldn’t have wanted an ending any other way.

A pleasant, enjoyable read which I would recommend if you want something not too taxing. ( )
  tina1969 | May 14, 2012 |
This was another $5 bookshop buy. Would it be too harsh to say I’m glad I only spent $5 on it?

This book seemed like it had so much going for it. The plot, while not 100% original, could be so good! Let me just summarise it quickly for you: Cate, troubled by the ending of a previous romance, goes to work for her aunt’s auction business. There, she meets Jack, who is moody with secrets of his own. As they catalogue Endsleigh, the estate of one of the famed Blythe sisters, sexual tension flares. Cate becomes caught up in the mystery of what happened to the younger Blythe sister. Will she realise Jack’s interest and solve the mystery? There are many books that follow this kind of plot - Kate Morton has written some very good (okay, and one not so good) books about the modern and historic, involving big houses and decades old mysteries. Unfortunately, this one is not so good.

Why do I think this? The prose is dreary. I had to force myself to continue to read this, setting myself a page target each day (all for the benefit of you, dear reader – your life is too short for bad books!) The tension between Cate and Jack felt forced and clichéd – like the characters themselves were begrudgingly acting out the part for the sake of the reader. The prose really didn’t evoke an atmosphere either – it felt stilted and restrained. Cate’s love affair lacked love, regret and the anger of betrayal – it really felt like she was just going through the motions. No passion at all!

The mystery was quite interesting though and although the ‘discovery’ is somewhat clichéd (I won’t spoil it for you if you intend to read the book), at least it is solved. The way that Cate got interested in Baby Blythe’s disappearance through a hidden shoebox of memorabilia was unique and one of the more interesting parts of the book to me. The way the ‘historic’ side of the plot was revealed through letters mainly between the Blythe sisters was interesting too, but at times it left more questions than answers for me.

I cared about this book enough to finish, but I’m sorry, not enough to recommend it. It may be an okay beach or plane read at a pinch.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Apr 13, 2012 |
I really enjoyed this book, which surprised me because after reading the first two chapters, I was a little wary of a story set in England but written by an author who is not ‘a native’. I sometimes find authors that are not born in the country their story is set in, often make numerous mistakes that can ruin the tale. However I soon forgave Tessaro for the tiny omissions in the first couple of chapters as the rest of the book was fantastic and she had clearly done more than enough home work. I was drawn to this book because I love historical fiction, but when I realised it is mostly set in Devon, close to where I live (less than 30 minutes drive away actually) I had to buy it. The description of the area, both past and present was fantastic and very accurate. In fact at one point, a photographer was mentioned as being in business during the 1920/30’s at a certain building in Union Street, Plymouth. I looked up this photographer online and the business did exist exactly at the address noted in the book – a building I have walked past many times without even realising what its history was. It’s little facts like this that make the story all the more enjoyable and real. Although one little niggle – why did the characters always stay at Lyme Regis, another county and a couple of hours drive away? They could have easily stayed at a closer more believable location! As to the characters, although I enjoyed the love story developing between Cate and Jack, it was the hidden story of the Blythe sisters that drew me in and made me want to unravel the secrets of their lives. You have the elder, sensible sister who is well-behaved and deeply religious. She marries well and has to uphold her husband’s important reputation. Then there is the younger sister, the wild, outrageous flapper who loves to party and has no intention of settling down or worrying about how she is perceived by the ‘well to do’ crowd. The fact that part of the Blythe sisters story is told via letters, mostly one-sided, also helps to add to the mystery and suspense of this tale and I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it – especially the slightly unusual ending!

Favourite Lines: “I saw Malcolm for lunch……In the end I gave up trying to get a word in edgeways and amused myself instead by thinking of various ways I could kill him using only the objects found on the table…….I’m partuculalry proud of asphyxiation through excessive amounts of mint jelly, dowsing them in brandy then setting them on fire, and the forceful ramming of a napkin down the throat…..I may not have come up with anything wicked to do with a spoon yet but it’s only a matter of time….” (Page 196-7). ( )
  moosenoose | Dec 21, 2011 |
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Epigraph
There is a dangerous silence in that hour
A stillness, which leaves room for the full soul
To open all itself, without the power
Of calling wholly back its self-control:
The silver light which, hallowing tree and tower,
Sheds beauty and deep softness o'er the whole,
Breathes also to the heart, and o'er it throws
A loving languor, which is not repose.
LORD BYRON, Don Juan
Dedication
For Annabel
First words
In the heart of the City of London, tucked into one of the winding streets behind Gray's Inn Square and Holborn Station, there's a narrow passage known as Jockey's Fields.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Cate, an artist who abandoned her talent, heart, and self-respect in New York, takes a temporary gig as an antiques appraiser in London, and is soon drawn into the mystery of the beautiful Blythe sisters, recently deceased aristocrat Irene and long-missing Diana, both of whom shocked and fascinated London in the 1930s.… (more)

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