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The Debutante

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  1,798 Ratings  ·  226 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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May 22, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
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
May 07, 2017 Bloodorange rated it really liked it
Shelves: us, 2017-retro-feel
A shameful secret: I am prone to violent literary crushes.

Every once in a while - every two-three years, perhaps? - I put Respectful Reading aside to hunt down and read every last Murakami novel, every Chabon novel, every (horribile dictu!) John Green novel, every Mohsin Hamid novel. (There also are near-crushes: Sarah Waters had the potential, and we nearly hit it off, but no.) It always has to be a living writer, never what would be called ambitious literature in GR circles (I blame my usual
Julia Flaherty
Jul 12, 2011 Julia Flaherty rated it liked it
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
Lydia Presley
Oct 05, 2010 Lydia Presley rated it really liked it
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
Nov 23, 2013 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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.
Sep 03, 2013 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-books
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
Jul 20, 2012 Jess rated it did not like it

This book would have been wonderful f it had just been the tale of the sisters. I found myself phasing out during the, at times vulgar and disgusting, aspects of the "main" story. I hated the modern day characters, and unlike other readers, still didn't care at the end.
Nov 11, 2010 Nely rated it liked it
Shelves: for-review
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
Lydia Laceby
Jul 18, 2012 Lydia Laceby rated it really liked it
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
Apr 14, 2012 Elaine rated it it was ok
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
Mar 01, 2013 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 14, 2015 Feyza rated it did not like it
Yet another badly written best seller.
If the story revealed by the items in the shoebox were to be handled any other way, it would have been a rewarding read.

Nothing remotely likeable about Cate or Jack (get over yourselves, peeps, you've got everything going for you!), too little about the really interesting characters in 1930s England, profanities handed out like loose change early on to get the reader into the mood... of what; eroticism?
And then there was the cigarette (and why does it have
Oct 31, 2010 Jane rated it did not like it
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.
Patty Abarno
Oct 08, 2015 Patty Abarno rated it really liked it
This is the same author as The Perfume Collector. While I didn't love this novel quite as much, I still found it to be a great read. I definitely recommend this book.
Oct 27, 2014 Amanda rated it it was ok
Ugh. Pretty bland. More Blythe sisters and less Cate, Jack and Rachel
Oct 08, 2014 Patt rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Four chapters into it, just couldn't bring myself to read anymore.
Lisa Dunckley
May 06, 2017 Lisa Dunckley rated it liked it
Like the other Tessaro books I've read, this is a story within a story. Jack is an antique dealer who goes to estates to value the furniture and other items for the owners, Katie is an artist who is escaping a bad relationship and who accompanies Jack as a favor to her aunt.

Instead of an ordinary job, this house turns out to have belonged to Irene Blythe, one of two famous debutante sisters. Their lives were both public, yet shrouded with mystery, especially when the younger sister, Diana aka “
Phooey. Disappointing.

This is the third bok from this author that I've read and while I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, this one was a disappointment. It seemed to ramble quite a bit, and there were many pieces left hanging that didn't seem to fit. The letter writers were frequently confusing and references didn't connect. The present day story line seemed full of depression, anger and sadness, but again was very disjointed. After finishing this (and frankly I had to make myself finish it) I f
May 19, 2017 Jacqueline rated it liked it
I did enjoy this book. It was shallow and predictable, but easy to pick up and put down. Sometimes you don't want a heavy read, just a simple one where you don't need to think about a complicated plot, and this book was it.
Jun 06, 2017 Tammi rated it really liked it
Clever, delightful, beguiling.
Jul 18, 2017 F M rated it it was amazing
History, antiques and romance with a mystery thrown in. Good read - I enjoyed it.
Rajashri Saphia Singh
They're all different. We are the ones who stay the same.
Neha S
Feb 14, 2017 Neha S rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not enough of either story to be satisfying. Completely disjointed - the premise was good, but not fully developed.
Meghan Thompson
Jun 30, 2017 Meghan Thompson rated it it was amazing
This is just a simple, intriguing story... great beach read. Loved it!
J Jump
Nov 02, 2016 J Jump rated it really liked it
Such a great love/mystery story!!

Rachel Carr
Nov 02, 2010 Rachel Carr rated it liked it
To read more reviews check out Reading Rendezvous at:

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
Jan 09, 2011 Marie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Calvin Allen
May 03, 2011 Calvin Allen rated it liked it
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,
Sam Still Reading
Mar 12, 2012 Sam Still Reading rated it it was ok
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
Oct 26, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
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
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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
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“We forgive not because it’s easy or the right thing to do, but that the choice to forgive is in itself powerful. It’s an affirmation, a willingness to take life on life’s terms. And a privilege that no one can take from you. It” 1 likes
“The family that had once welcomed him and been his as well, especially after his father deteriorated, took a step back. And he found he was instantly isolated, separated by their loyalty to Julia. No one ever said anything directly; no acknowledgement was ever made of how she was found. They were grieving the loss of their sister, their child. He was alone in grieving the loss of his marriage as well. The gap widened. An unspoken hostility grew between them, built from the unsaid words; a kind of defensiveness on both sides, which gradually hardened into a wall. Had they believed he had something to do with her infidelity? That he’d driven her to it through some neglect or unfaithfulness of his own? Had she confided in them about her lack of marital satisfaction? And so it spread outwards like a kind of web; extending to embrace her friends – friends he’d thought of as belonging to him too until they struggled to make eye contact with him at the funeral or no longer bothered to ring. He hadn’t been the one who’d cheated. But he was the one who felt punished for the affair. The one who was left. ‘It’s time you moved on,’ people began to say, as little as six months later. ‘You need to let go of that now.’ Yes, he needed to let go of it, accept it, and endure the increasing indifference of those he thought had loved him. He needed to grow up, get on. Life wasn’t fair. Who ever said life was fair? So she cheated. Time to get a girlfriend; buy a house…start again. Yet” 0 likes
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