The last dance of the debutante

Julia Kelly, 1986-

Book - 2021

"When it's announced that 1958 will be the last year debutantes are to be presented at court, thousands of eager mothers and hopeful daughters flood the palace with letters seeking the year's most coveted invitation: a chance for their daughters to curtsey to the young Queen Elizabeth and officially come out into society. In an effort to appease her traditional mother, aspiring university student Lily Nichols agrees to become a debutante and do the Season, a glittering and gruelin...g string of countless balls and cocktail parties. In doing so, she befriends two very different women: the cool and aloof Leana Hartford whose apparent perfection hides a darker side and the ambitious Katherine Norman who dreams of a career once she helps her parents find their place among the elite. But the glorious effervescence of the Season evaporates once Lily learns a devastating secret that threatens to destroy her entire family. Faced with a dark past, she's forced to ask herself what really matters: her family legacy or her own happiness. With her signature "intricate, tender, and convincing" (Publishers Weekly) storytelling, Julia Kelly weaves an unforgettable tale of female friendship amid the twilight days of Britain's grand coming out balls"--

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Subjects
Genres
Domestic fiction
Historical fiction
Published
New York : Gallery Books 2021.
Edition
First Gallery Books hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
328 pages : 24 cm
ISBN
9781982171636
1982171634
Main Author
Julia Kelly, 1986- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

London 1958 is the last year that young debutantes will be presented at court. Lily Nicholls is of age and her mother and grandmama are determined for her to have a successful coming out. Lily dreams of going to university and studying literature, whereas her family wants her settled as a housewife with social status. Dutifully attending the parties and luncheons, Lily makes fast friends with other young women, some more genuine than others. With new friendships and a budding romance, Lily becomes bolder and begins to stand up to her mother and grandmama, even unearthing some dark family secrets. Kelly's (The Last Garden in England, 2021) descriptions of the glamorous, though long nights, are captivating. The pressure these young women feel to impress and make the right match is exhausting, and Kelly evokes compassion for her characters. The story is full of allure, society scandals, and the determination for these young women to eschew the dying traditions of the time. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

It's 1958, the last year when debutantes are to be presented at court, and Lily Nichols makes her tradition-minded mother happy by temporarily putting aside dreams of university. Instead, she joins the gloved-and-gowned young women planning to drop a last curtsey to Queen Elizabeth II. Along the way she meets icy-cool Leana Hartford and career-minded Katherine Norman and learns a secret that could destroy her family. From the internationally best-selling author of The Light Over London; with a 50,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Kelly's captivating latest (after The Whispers of War) follows a young woman making her debut in 1958 London, the last year debutantes were presented before the monarch. Lily Nichols, 18, is a talented dressmaker who loves to read and longs for a future other than that of a housewife. Her cold mother, Josephine, who's harboring some family secrets, relies on Lily's wealthy, controlling grandmother for financial support. Both regard Lily's societal obligations, with all its rules and gossip, very seriously. Lily becomes fast friends with the well-connected Leana Hartford, which improves her social capital, though Leana's mean streak and bossy nature quickly exhausts Lily, who finds common ground with down-to-earth Katherine Norman, the daughter of a newspaper magnate who's maligned for coming from new money. Katherine encourages Lily to follow her dreams of going to university and pursuing poor-but-wonderful Ian Bingham. The engrossing narrative dishes out the right amount of tension while moving the plot forward at a satisfying pace. The final act concerns Josephine's unveiled secrets, which feel superfluous, but Kelly's descriptions of the emotionally exhausting business of doing and wearing the right thing elicit empathy for characters whose circumstances depend on finding a husband. Kelly succeeds at bringing a bygone world to life. (Dec.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In 1958, the last year debutantes are to presented in court, Lily Nichols, while attending a glittering and grueling string of countless parties and balls, discovers a devastating secret about her entire family, forcing her to choose between her legacy or her own happiness. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"When it's announced that 1958 will be the last year debutantes are to be presented at court, thousands of eager mothers and hopeful daughters flood the palace with letters seeking the year's most coveted invitation: a chance for their daughters to curtsey to the young Queen Elizabeth and officially come out into society. In an effort to appease her traditional mother, aspiring university student Lily Nichols agrees to become a debutante and do the Season, a glittering and grueling string of countless balls and cocktail parties. In doing so, she befriends two very different women: the cool and aloof Leana Hartford whose apparent perfection hides a darker side and the ambitious Katherine Norman who dreams of a career once she helps her parents find their place among the elite. But the glorious effervescence of the Season evaporates once Lily learns a devastating secret that threatens to destroy her entire family. Faced with a dark past, she's forced to ask herself what really matters: her family legacy orher own happiness. With her signature "intricate, tender, and convincing" (Publishers Weekly) storytelling, Julia Kelly weaves an unforgettable tale of female friendship amid the twilight days of Britain's grand coming out balls"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In this “glorious dance through the traditional glamour and suffocating expectations of a bygone era” (Genevieve Graham, USA TODAY bestselling author), a group of young women are swept up in a life-changing journey as they become three of the last debutantes to be presented to Queen Elizabeth II. When it’s announced that 1958 will be the last year debutantes are to be presented at court, thousands of eager mothers and hopeful daughters flood the palace with letters seeking the year’s most coveted invitation: a chance for their daughters to curtsy to the young Queen Elizabeth and officially come out into society.In an effort to appease her traditional mother, aspiring university student Lily Nichols agrees to become a debutante and do the Season, a glittering and grueling string of countless balls and cocktail parties. In doing so, she befriends two very different women: the cool and aloof Leana Hartford whose apparent perfection hides a darker side and the ambitious Katherine Norman who dreams of a career once she helps her parents find their place among the elite. But the glorious effervescence of the Season evaporates once Lily learns a devastating secret that threatens to destroy her entire family.“Woven with heartfelt emotion, this novel is a captivating, unforgettable story of one woman’s journey to find love, truth, and, most importantly, herself” (Kelly Bowen, author of The Paris Apartment) in midcentury Great Britain.