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The Debutante

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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  1,155 ratings  ·  161 reviews
Cate, an exile from New York, is sent to help value the contents of a once-grand house on the south-west coast of England. Cataloguing its contents, she uncovers details of two of the most famous debutantes of their generation. The tale that unfolds is one of dark, addictive love, leading Cate to face up to secrets of her own.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 30th 2010 by Harper (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,374)
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Amy
After reading The Perfume Collector I wanted to read more by this author. This was a little disappointing... too many confusing subplots... One story is told through letters and I got mixed up on what character was writing and receiving.... ok read....
A gifted artist, Cate has come to London from New York to escape her recent past. Working for her aunt's auction house, she is sent down to Devon to value the contents of Endsleigh House, the once gracious but now crumbling estate of a former socia
...more
Julia
I thought this book would be a sunnier beach read than it turned out to be. At first, I had a hard time caring about the characters, who are all wealthy, extremely self-absorbed, and kind of prone to obsessive behavior. It's kind of like Sex In The City but since the characters are mostly grieving over some kind of loss or betrayal, it has a much darker quality to it.

The story moves back and forth between modern London and 1930's London. The Modern London part features a widowed man and a young
...more
Tracey
The Debutante sounded like it was going to be an interesting read but it turned out to be a disappointment, mainly due to the bland storytelling and the unlikeable characters.

Cate, a young woman with a troubled past, has returned to England to stay with her aunt and is given the task of valuing the contents of an old Georgian mansion called Endsleigh. Endsleigh once belonged to the recently deceased Irene Blythe, the eldest of the Blythe sisters who were the most famous debutantes of their gene
...more
Sarah
Kathleen Tessaro is highly underrated in the literature genre; especially in the sub-genre arena for chick-lit/women's fiction. All of her novels have a depth most authors fail to capture, with unforgettable plots that are emotionally impacting. The Debutante is Tessaro's latest novel.

Jack is a handsome, though humble antique cataloguing expert sent to the empty Endsleigh House, an estate at its liveliest throughout the 1920s-1930s -- and the home of the famous debutante Blythe sisters. Accompan
...more
Lydia Presley
This book was delicious. It had a bitter bite here or there (due to my somewhat prudish nature when it comes to certain words) but overall.. such a delicious story.

This is the recipe for a delicious story.

One part modern romance.
One part mysterious débutante.
One part old, sad home.
One part insanity.
Mix all those up together, put a beautiful pink cover on the book and you have the makings of a fun, interesting, sad, heart-warming, intriguing story.

What I loved most about The Débutante by Kathleen
...more
Holly
I think I would have liked this book better if it had concentrated more on the Blythe sisters. I found their story more interesting than I did Cate's or Jack's. If this book had just been about Cate and Jack I don't think I could have continued reading. What made me keep reading was the mystery surrounding the Blythe sisters, mainly, Baby Blythe. They had more depth to them. Cate and Jack just fell flat for me.
Nely
I truly love stories that have alternating sub-stories taking place within them. And The Debutante is the perfect example of that. With Cate's tale taking place in the present and Baby's story taking place in the past - I loved how both interwove and came together. When Cate is asked by her aunt to assist Jack in cataloguing the contents of Endsleigh House for an upcoming auction - she didn't expect to find a box full of treasures and a mystery that was just too irresistible to pass.

Although at
...more
Lydia Laceby
Originally Reviewed at Novel Escapes

The Debutante was the first novel by Kathleen Tessaro that I’ve read and I really enjoyed it. It was full of intrigue and mystery that kept me entertained and flipping pages until the very end wondering how the story would unfold.

After a bit of a slow start, I became immersed in this story and loved the rich, but not overwhelming detail. Initially, I wasn’t sure about Kate, but grew to like her and care about her story as much as I was interested in finding ou
...more
Elaine
I'm not quite sure what attracted me to this-possibly the "old house being a character in its' own right." However this time, it really wasn't executed terribly well.

One of the sisters who were debutantes many years ago, disappeared without trace. The novel revolves around the two valuers who are sent to catalogue the contents of the house, and one of them (Cate), becomes intrigued by this mystery, and resolves to discover the truth behind her disappearance. It sounds as if there's hould be a l
...more
Tony
In the beginning I wasn't sure about this book but I wanted to give it a chance and I'm glad I did. The reason for my hesitation is that though I found her first novel "Elegance" to be charming and funny, her last book "Flirt" seemed a bit forced. I didn't dislike "Flirt" I just didn't care that much about the main characters. Inspite of all that I enjoy her writing overall and took a chance on this one.

The characters are so human, so vulnerable, so stuck. Watching the characters develop, see t
...more
Tiffany Young
I'm quickly becoming a fan of Kathleen Tessaro's work. I first picked up The Perfume Collector because it has a gorgeous cover of a mysterious woman wearing a red dress. After enjoying it, I went back to Half Price Books to see if there was anything else by the author and found this one. While I may not have enjoyed it quite as much as the first one (it's set in England rather than Paris), I still liked it a lot.

An auction house owner lets her niece come to live with her because she is in some
...more
Tc
This reminded me of Kate Morton's books, which I absolutely love, but shorter and not as complicated or, frankly, as well written. I like Kathleen Tessaro's premises for her books, but I'm always left a little disappointed with the execution, especially the lack of closure. This was the worst with Innocence, which was a huge disappointment, and was present here again. I don't know if the author shies away from delivering confrontation scenes because she's not comfortable writing them or if it's ...more
Jane
Albeit the author's best intent, and despite the being a fan of the author's earlier works, this book was disappointing. Her experiment with a mystery with an unbelievable romantic angle that seems more like an unnecessary garnish added as an afterthought made the resolution of both the mystery and protagonist's relationship unsatisfying.
Cathie Jeffreys
This book kept me interested. I really wanted to know more about the Blythe sisters whose story is told only through brief letters. This is a story in which the characters both past and present are somewhat intertwined. There is the mystery of a debutante who disappeared without a trace many years ago. The research into this mystery is the very interesting. The main present day characters are somewhat interesting, but not extremely engaging. I wanted more from them. Their lives are pretty depres ...more
Paras Abbasi
I dont really remember reading any history cum romance novels before. However I might have developed some interest, had I started off with a better novel in this genre. The Débutante was a disappointment.
I got hold of this book in the beginning of my senior year when there were no busy schedules, and I was mostly bored with nothing to do since I had read up all the stocked up novels in my dorm. Looking at my boredom, one of my friends lent me this book to read to pass some idle time. Since she
...more
Rachel Carr
To read more reviews check out Reading Rendezvous at: www.missomnimedia.com/tag/reading-ren...


They say a name is everything especially in a country surrounded by rank and position. The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro details the live of Cate who recently returned to London from New York in attempts to escape her past. While her mother is on hiatus in Spain, Cate begins working for her Aunt Rachel at an auction house. In an attempt to revive her niece, Rachel sends Cate to Devon to value the conten
...more
Lindsay Heller
This book was okay. O-k. Nothing good. But it wasn't terrible either. That doesn't sound like much to recommend it and I'm honestly not sure if I would. This book had a lot of potential, and showed glimpses of great characters, unfortunately it didn't follow through on anything.

'The Debutante' is, at it's core, the story of Cate Albion. She's fresh home to London after a disastrous stint in New York City where she completely abandoned her artistic sensibilities to start painting reproductions a
...more
CS
I'm a huge fan of the author's earlier books - I still think Elegance is one of the best women's fiction novels around - so my expectations were high. So take the following with a grain of disappointed salt.

While the author has always had a somewhat remote voice, holding the characters an arm's length away from the reader, in The Debutante the characters are several hundred miles away. They never truly become three-dimensional on page, and Tessaro makes the fatal mistake of telling us the key mo
...more
*MystGrrl*
Oct 23, 2010 *MystGrrl* rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of ficyion based in the early to mid 1900s.
Cate (aka Katie) is trying to run away from New York and her past. When her aunt Rachel offers her a job as an assistant to help auction catalog a deceased estate's assets at Endsleigh, a Manor in the English countryside, she jumps the chance to getaway; but when Cate lock picks a forgotten gilded room that had been hidden for over a generation and stumbles upon a shoebox filled with secrets, she becomes obsessed with the Blythe sisters and in particular popular socialite Diana "Baby" Blythe who ...more
Amanda
I can’t figure out why this book was rated so poorly. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was captivated throughout. I noticed that some reviewers alluded to the fact that there was a hint of darkness about this novel. Aside from the mysterious that surrounds the shoe box and the Blythe sisters, perhaps the slightly darkened atmosphere is precisely what I enjoyed most. I should add that I’m not usually a huge fan of chick-lit as oftentimes I feel that it lacks substance. The Debutante should be classifi ...more
Marguerite Kaye
I read this again (October 2013) not realising when I downloaded it that I'd already read it before - which shows how much stuck. Though actually, fairly early in I remembered the story and why I hadn't liked it as much as I thought I would. It's one of those 'two era' stories that I enjoy. Traumatised modern-day girl finds box of stuff in house that's been cleared out and because she doesn't want to deal with her own issues she spends all her energy trying to find out the older story. And it's ...more
Sarah
Review originally posted here.

I really like historical fiction, especially the type that mixes contemporary and historical, something like what Kate Morton (House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden) writes. I think I was hoping The Debutante would be similar. To a point, with the plot, it was similar. But I didn’t connect to the writer, the characters, or the plot as much as I do with a Kate Morton book.

Cate, an artist, goes to London from New York in an attempt to escape from some of the choices
...more
Calvin Allen
I'm evidently not part of the recognised demographic for contemporary women's fiction, but I did pick up Kathleen Tessaro's fourth novel, The Debutante.

What I found was an intriguing novel combining a historical romance with a study of the complexities of modern relationships; the former taking the shape of a mystery prosecuted by the protagonists in the latter. The present-day events take place against a backdrop of a series of letters written by the eponymous deb which both feed off, and into,
...more
Marie
In The Debutante, Cate is sent by her aunt Rachel to Endsleigh, a crumbling old mansion in England. She is to work with Jack cataloguing and evaluating the contents. She doesn't know much about this work, but she needs a break from her life. Once in the mansion, she discovers an old shoe box hidden at the back of a bookshelf. It contains a pair of silk dancing shoes along with other miscellaneous items. She's soon caught up in the mystery of Baby Blythe, the most famous debutante of her time.

Ov
...more
Karen
Quite disappointed with this book. It was more of a character study, and very lacking in an actual plot. I guess this could be classified as contemporary literature. I couldn't see where it was going, and kept reading to find out. It seemed to go nowhere, though I suppose it was interesting. It involved 2 separate story lines, one set in modern times, and one historical. I felt in the end, that the historical part was used more as a padding to make this into book length. If it was intended for a ...more
Avril
The Debutante
by Kathleen Tessaro

The Blythe sisters are Irish beauties launched into London society by their widower mother in the 1930's. Irene marries a politician and moves to a beautiful, rural manor home called Endsleigh. Diana aka Baby Blythe becomes notorious for her "romantic liasions", her drug use and her unexplained disappearance. Several decades later, Jack and Cate are sent to appraise the contents of Endsleigh for auction. Cate's on the run from a rich collector who views her as an
...more
Staci
Nov 09, 2010 Staci rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Staci by: TLC
Shelves: 2010-reads, tlc-tour

Why I wanted to read this book: I've never heard of this author but after reading the premise of the story I thought it would make for an interesting read. I was intrigued with the idea of finding a box with various items in it and then setting out to explore the story behind them.

What worked for me:

* Of course, if you've read my blog long enough you'll know that I fall in love easily with all things England. So of course, I fell in love with London and the grand Georgian home tucked away by th
...more
Kate
Feb 06, 2011 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fluff
I picked this book up as a lunchtime read, and after one sitting, decided I was going to return it. And yet, after it sat on the end of my desk, I kept wondering about the historical situation set up in the book, so I ended up finishing it anyway.

The story is made of two narratives, one in modern London following Cate, a disillusioned young artist running from a bad situation in New York, and the other done via correspondence of a daring debutante in the early 20th century. The stories don't int
...more
Sam Still Reading
Apr 13, 2012 Sam Still Reading rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: big, big fans of this genre
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: $5 buy
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. Ca
...more
Sherry
Can I call this the best book I've read this year?! This book was fun, interesting, detailed, historical... everything my inner nerd requires in a good book. I'm always slightly skeptical of books that deal with stories on two (or more) timelines. Flashback narratives annoy me - Which, my friends, is why I'm so happy to say this book... might have a few. A FEW. The past timeline of the story is played out through letters, just enough info to put the reader in "the know" while the characters in t ...more
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Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Kathleen attended the University of Pittsburgh before entering the drama program of Carnegie Mellon University. In the middle of her sophomore year, she went to study in London for three months and stayed for the next twenty-three years. She began writing at the suggestion of a friend and was an early member of the Wimpole Street Writer’s Workshop. Her debut novel ...more
More about Kathleen Tessaro...
The Perfume Collector Elegance Innocence The Flirt Kathleen Tessaro 3-Book Collection: The Flirt, The Debutante, The Perfume Collector

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