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.