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Debutantes #2

The Season

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Portia and Emily meet to launch their daughters on an unsuspecting Society for the London Season of 1913. Both are determined that their offspring, Phyllis and Edith, will catch the eye of their friend May's son, a future Duke. If that were all, the Season would be a relatively simple affair, but since Portia is recently widowed and Emily is away from her husband, life is bound to get more interesting.

Meanwhile, their arch-enemy Daisy Lanford, fallen on hard times due to extravagance and too many lovers, is busy launching American heiresses. However, her protegee, Sarah Hartley Lambert, whilst an engaging girl, is not the wild success Daisy hopes for. This is largely due to the machinations of Phyllis, who, having formed an unholy alliance with Edith, is intent on spoiling the American girl's chances.

As always, the Season is fraught with dangers for both the young and the middle-aged, while the old observe, knowing it has all gone on before. It will be a minor miracle if all three girls find husbands before the end of the Season, and their mothers, not to mention Daisy Lanford, renewed happiness.

589 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2001

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About the author

Charlotte Bingham

69 books63 followers
The Honourable Charlotte Mary Thérèse Bingham was born on 29 June 1942 in Haywards Heath, Sussex, England, UK. Her father, John Bingham, the 7th Baron Clanmorris, wrote detective stories and was a secret member of MI5. Her mother, Madeleine Bingham, née Madeleine Mary Ebel, was a playwright. Charlotte first attended a school in London, but from the age of seven to 16, she went to the Priory of Our Lady's Good Counsel school in Haywards Heath. After she left school, she went to stay in Paris with some French aristocrats with the intention of learning French. She had written since she was 10 years old and her first piece of work was a thriller called Death's Ticket. She wrote her humorous autobiography, called Coronet Among the Weeds, when she was 19, and not long before her twentieth birthday a literary agent discovered her celebrating at the Ritz. He was a friend of her parents and he took off the finished manuscript of her autobiography. In 1963, this was published by Heinemanns and was a best seller.

In 1966, Charlotte Bingham's first novel, called Lucinda, was published. This was later adapted into a TV screenplay. In 1972, Coronet Among the Grass, her second autobiography, was published. This talked about the first ten years of her marriage to fellow writer Terence Brady. They couple, who have two children, later adapted Coronet Among the Grass and Coronet Among the Weeds, into the TV sitcom No, Honestly. She and her husband, Terence Brady, wrote three early episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs together, Board Wages, I Dies from Love and Out of the Everywhere. They later wrote an accompanying book called Rose's Story. They also wrote the episodes of Take Three Girls featuring Victoria (Liza Goddard). In the 1970s Brady and Bingham wrote episodes for the TV series Play for Today, Three Comedies of Marriage, Yes, Honestly and Robin's Nest. During the 1980s and 1990s they continued to write for the occasional TV series, and in 1993 adapted Jilly Cooper's novel Riders for the small screen. Since the 1980s she has become a romance novelist. In 1996 she won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award from the Romantic Novelists' Association.

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5 stars
100 (30%)
4 stars
101 (30%)
3 stars
84 (25%)
2 stars
33 (9%)
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13 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews
Profile Image for CLM.
2,663 reviews181 followers
June 29, 2012
In this sequel to Debutantes, the women who made their entry to society together are now sheparding the next generation, although with the exception of May (born on the wrong side of the blanket and thus of low blood, which perhaps explains why she is the nicest character, the mothers are not sensible enough to behave with propriety and their English daughters are unkind to the American heiress making her debut.

The characters did not have much personality but I couldn't help resenting that Sarah, the nice American girl, attractive but too tall, cannot make a decent match even with her riches, and ends up with a man who just had an affair with one of the mothers!
Profile Image for Sara Sartagne.
Author 8 books19 followers
November 27, 2021
Portia and Emily meet to launch their daughters on an unsuspecting Society for the London Season of 1913. Both are determined that their offspring, Phyllis and Edith, will catch the eye of their friend May's son, a future Duke. If that were all, the Season would be a relatively simple affair, but since Portia is recently widowed and Emily is away from her husband, life is bound to get more interesting.

Because of the different characters weaving in and out of this with their separate back stories, I needed to pay attention while I read this.
Edith O’Connor, Phyllis de Nugent and Sarah Hartley Lambert, a rich American are enrolled to Lady Devenish’s house to be ‘finished’ before the start of the season. Edith and Phyllis are frankly unpleasant to Sarah, who is too tall and too fashionable for a debutante.

And there the reader has the first glimpse of the snobbery,divisions and unspoken rules of Society in the England of 1913, before the First World War overset the old order. Daisy, the Countess of Evesham is being paid to sponsor Sarah and essentially, to get her married off to someone from the English nobility.

We follow the three girls’ progress through the season, interspersed with the ongoing love-lives of their mothers; some readers might have preferred to spend more time with the younger women in this novel rather than harking back to the previous dynasty.

However, the grasp of detail of this period in English history is very firm throughout the various stories and and used with a deft touch. The hint at a very dark time to come for the sparkling debutantes and their beaus was very touching.
184 reviews2 followers
November 24, 2020
Between the wars the now mothers from 'Debutantes' are in the market to palm their debutante daughters (x 3) off. In the updated meat market it's just the same formula to find a suitable husband for each daughter. Once again the descriptions of clothes, characters, etc is really well done. It's unfair to go into the story too much as spoilers would give too much away. An entertaining read - and the end of the true debutante era.
Profile Image for Amy.
212 reviews12 followers
May 15, 2020
Re read. Pure delicious escapism.

(But WHY do cover designers insist on using photos with dresses that are completely wrong for the time period? She's got a bustle, and the book is set in the 1910s, 30ish years after both the periods when bustles were in fashion in the 1880s. Like having a world war two family saga with a woman in a 1970s minidress or flares or something.)
14 reviews
March 18, 2022
Another wonderful period drama

The saga of the lives of the wealthy aristocracy continues with another generation and familiar characters from the first novel. Beautifully written with attention to detail, it is easy to visualise scenes when the rich and titled had their own rules which had to be followed at all costs. A joy to read.
28 reviews
June 4, 2021
Part of a great series

The author spun a tale into which I could immerse myself. Amazing allot the rules of society, with women having little control over their lives. Wonderful characters!
4 reviews
July 12, 2021
Soooo boring, repetitive and contrived

Slow, slow, slow. Not interesting, not historical, too wordy and made me go cross-eyed with repetitive minutiae. Did not read more than a few chapters.
Profile Image for Alisa Henrich.
156 reviews
December 28, 2021
great period book

The second in a series. Enjoyable read and full of historical details that made picturing life in England vibrant and colorful! Nice to see the characters again in their later years and follow their children.
100 reviews1 follower
May 9, 2021

Enjoyed both books keenly it took me a while to fumble out all the players but in the end I loved it
Profile Image for Nancy.
12 reviews
June 12, 2021
Very entertaining. The characters are so well developed with such an engaging story line. I wish there were more books in this series.
December 11, 2022

I enjoyed the story, but sections seemed to become very wordy and I skipped right through them without missing what was happening in the story.
2,223 reviews9 followers
February 21, 2016
An engaging novel set just after the turn of the century in 1913 when the London "Season" was still swinging.
Enter Portia and Emily mothers who are just about to launch their daughters Phyllis and Edith to the world.
But then they are up against competition, although considered too tall to be beautiful Sarah Hartley Lambert an American heiress is the protege of Portia and Emily's enemy, Daisy Lanford and as rivals she is determined as a professional at launching girls into the season to beat both Phyllis and Edith in the marriage stakes.
Full of rich, historical detail, at times funny and at others quite touching as you get to see behind the scenes and the devious machinations in the cut throat world of the debutantes.
A must for all period drama fans who enjoy ripping yarn!
Profile Image for Sharleena Bramley.
34 reviews8 followers
March 31, 2012
Charlotte Bingham is one of my favourite romance type author, but this book was a bit of a disappointment to me. I just seemed to drag on for too long, and I found it very hard to finish reading it. I only did so by forcing myself to sit down and read it for the day!

Although this is the case, there were good things about the book. The storyline was interesting - based around once-upon a time mothers living vicariously through their children, and the character building within the story was also good. It is for these reasons that it received 3 stars from me, and not 2.
Profile Image for Charlaralotte.
248 reviews48 followers
April 27, 2009
Some interesting details of Edwardian life in London during debutante season. Otherwise, a swift, relatively painless, and completely undemanding read. Wonder why it hasn't been made into a movie yet...perhaps because there's not much suspense. More soap opera-y.
Profile Image for Windy.
57 reviews2 followers
September 18, 2009
Wow. I found myself questioning my taste in books as this one dragggggged on and on and on. A group of older ladies living vicariously through the younger girls through the English Season. I can read the driest of dry stories, but this one left me bored.
Profile Image for Danielle Pederson.
52 reviews2 followers
June 28, 2011
If you love Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer you'll love this book! It took a look at the London Season from a variety of different viewpoints and I loved how many wonderful different romances there were!

Ranked #8 in my top 10 romance list
Profile Image for Lisa.
135 reviews
July 27, 2011
This was ok, bit old fashioned for me, but persevered and finished reading it :)
39 reviews
March 23, 2017
I probably should have started with the n°1, but I just happened to find this one in a second hand bookshop, so I just grabbed the chance to read my first Charlotte Bingham. Not really impressed, but I can understand the attraction and the success she has.
I liked the insight we gather on the society at that time. I learned quite a lot too.
I found it hard to read great lengths in a row, probably due to the too long sentences, and the long disgressions. For me the book lacked a focal pooint or a definite plot. I was unsettled not to be able to undertsand who were the main characters.
But then, now I've finished it, I understand that the focal point is the society of that time, the tradition, the Season, love, faithfulness, marriage and widowhood, and not the people themselves.
It was interesting she should set it in 1913, but unsettling that she didn't clearly refer to the many changes to come (war and the army is entioned but twice very discreetly) . Or maybe is it clever and more sublte not to have done so?
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews

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