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.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. However, I had some trouble getting into it. It didn't really grab me until about 50 pages in. Before that I started the book three times, putting it down the first two times to read something else. In the end, though, it was quite a good read. I liked all of the mysteries that the book contained: Cate's past, Jack's past and, of course, the shoe box mystery of Baby Blythe.
The story offers a really good mix of past and present. The past dealt with Diana "Baby" Blythe and her sister, Irene "Wren", while the present day story featured Cate and Jack. I really liked how past events were brought into the story through a series of letters from Baby to Wren, which were interspersed with the present day narrative. I enjoyed the letters and really got a sense of society life as well as Baby's life from them. I did have a small problem with them, though. They appeared to be placed randomly without introduction or connection to the what was going on in the present day story. Therefore, it was a little jarring at times to be taken from one time period to another.
The characters were all very likeable. I loved how they interacted with each other and once I got into the book I couldn't wait to see what would happen to them.
I really liked the cover of this book. It's pink, frilly and sophisticated. It is a bit deceiving, though. I thought the story was going to be light-hearted and be from the chick-lit genre. However, the story was substantial, dark and mysterious.
Endsleigh House, the old mansion, was very intriguing. I think it would be fun to visit an old forgotten mansion that held so many secrets.
Recommended. Even though I had a few problems with this book, I'd definitely read another book by this author.
For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.
I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.
The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro, Avon (HarperCollins), ©2010. ISBN 9780061125782(Uncorrected proof), 386p.