Cover Image: The Last Debutantes

The Last Debutantes

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A charming novel that easily transports readers to the 1930s. This story was sweet and cosy, like a perfect cup of tea. Read it for the lavish gowns, parties, houses and high society of pre-war England.
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Love the time period that this book is set in and the cover! Honestly though I just couldn’t get into this one. Maybe a case of the right book at the wrong time? Hope to give it a try again in the future but for now DNF, as it didn’t hold my attention.
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I enjoyed the setting of this book and the time period. I think it was a great look at what the life of debutantes were like and would be great for fans of historical fiction.
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I simply love historical fiction and am always amazed at how authors twist and pull the truth of history into a story that suits their purpose and entertains the readers. Blalock works her magic wand over the last year before England goes to war with Germany and the world changes.

Using family connections to the then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, Blalock's plot twist both sides of Chamberlain's family into a great story. Valerie de Vere Cole was the niece of the PM, lived with them after her father, Mrs. Chamberlain's brother passed away. He was a ripper, for sure, and made history as a prankster in the worst sort of way. All true!

But this is about England's tough upper crust with their stiff upper lips and all that! Each trying to outdo the other for placement of their debutante in 1939. The story is well told and an interesting read. I love how the American royalty Eunice Kennedy was woven into the story. Quite a historical adventure.
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Felt a little predictable but for people who really love pre war and WW II historical fiction I do think it will be a hit. Who doesn't love to watch the elite class rise and fall? Overall not gripping but an interesting account of a unique part of British society pre WW II.
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Reading a fictionalized account of the last debutante season in London before World War II was interesting. The historical aspects of this novel were wonderful, but I do wish the characters had been a bit more complex. I kept expecting some major character development that never occurred. Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins for this eARC!
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I love an in-depth emotional historical, so I thought this would be the perfect fit. It was moving but I struggled a time to stay engaged and finish. Just not for me.
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I was so excited for this book because it sounded like the perfect mix of WWII and Bridgerton. And it was--right up until the end. I loved Elm and was hoping that the narrator would end up with him, especially after their dramatic fall out from society. Unfortunately, the ending was such a let down for me. I was so sad for Valerie and felt like she was simply settling for her second choice in romance, which basically went against the rest of the book. I know that this is the most realistic outcome, but I was so hoping for a fairy tale ending.
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Anytime someone hands me a historical retelling, I'm beyond ready to devour it. But "The Last Debutantes" fails to appeal to a wider audience. 

Set in 1939 at the start of World War II, author Georgia Blalock sweeps you into the worlds of England's political elites, from their prominence to their fall. While I loved the true history behind the book, I often had trouble keeping up with the characters — partially because, while  Blalock does a fine job of capturing the time period, the writing and the dialogue come off as stuffy and uninspired. 

Truly, I don't have as much as I'd like to say about this title. If you like history set in this period, you'll most likely enjoy this book. While not the best of its genre, it can hold its own. But it's not a book that will have people outside of this genre clamoring to get it.
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This was a really well researched historical fiction novel. Valerie de Vere Cole was really Neville Chamberlain’s niece and this story told through her eyes gives a unique perspective on the time immediately before the UK joined WWII. 
On one hand people are going on like normal, Valerie and her friends (including Eunice Kennedy) are really busy as debutantes, and her home with her aunt and uncle at 10 Downing Street is bustling with the rumblings of war.
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The beautiful cover drew me to request this galley. I wanted to know the story right away! The historical research that the author has down was perfect. It was a very well-written piece of historical fiction because of it. I did struggle to stay in the story, however.
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Review will be posted on 11/28/21

Valerie, although she is niece to the Prime Minister, isn't your typical debutante.  Her father has debts up to his eyeballs and her mother isn't involved in her life.  Nonetheless, she is about to be presented to the King and Queen of England to join the ranks of the many debutantes.  However, times are changing.  War is coming and with it brings many changes. Some of the old traditions may not survive these changes.  Meanwhile, Valerie enters the world of high society and becomes friends with all sorts of women including Eunice Kennedy, daughter of Joe Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador. Can the debutantes survive this changing world? Georgie Blalock's The Last Debutantes begs readers to ask that very question and the novel explores the ups and downs of the last season of debutantes.

Valerie is a character who you can't help but feel for in The Last Debutantes. Her mother isn't great, her father has a ton of issues, but its her connections to the Chamberlains that keep her afloat in the precarious world of high society.  Thankfully, her aunt clues her in on what to expect, how to behave, and gives her some tips on how to survive. Slowly, Valerie gains more confidence and even befriends many of the other girls.  Perhaps she has more in common with them than she thought? It also appears that, like her family, each family she encounters is hiding a secret.  Valerie quickly learns that family secrets amongst the members of society can be used as weapons.  Also, as the story progresses, Valerie has a chance for love, but the young man isn't necessarily suitable for her. Will any of this matter once war arrives? Will all the old traditions and standards fall to the wayside?

Blalock develops a glittering debutante world very well in The Last Debutantes.  It's a world that's filled with balls, champagne, fancy jewels, and opulent dinners. Fans of Downton Abbey will especially appreciate the pomp and circumstance. I also really liked how Blalock included real-life people, such as Eunice Kennedy, as I am a fan of the Kennedy family and find her to be fascinating.

The last debutantes of 1939 before the war showed up on their doorsteps makes for an interesting tale, but I have to admit that The Last Debutantes was missing that something special to really set it apart from the other historical novels I've read this year.

So, are you a fan of Georgie Blalock's novels? Have you read The Last Debutante? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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This historical fiction novel was impeccably researched. I also appreciated the focus on a London society during time period following World War I. I feel like most of our historical fiction and historical romance novels focus on the 19th century, so this was a refreshing change of pace. 

However, be warned that this novel is a slow burn. If you appreciate novels that are almost entirely character driven, then this is the book for you. But if you like more plot, then maybe get this one from the library.
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Set against the backdrop of the Debutante season of 1939, London on the cusp of WWII, we meet Valerie, the niece of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.  It provided an interesting look into the lives of these young women and them young men whose company they enjoyed.  The story moved a little slowly for me but it was definitely a fun diversion into history,
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First, what a cover. What a cover. It made me want to read the book. I wanted to know Valerie's story before the second world war. However, I struggled to get into the story. Not sure why.

Thank you #Netgalley for the ARC.
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The Last Debutantes
By Georgie Blalock

I first was drawn to this novel by the book cover. I did read this book with a group of friends and then re-created the cover for this lovely book. 

I am a historical fiction buff and reading about Valerie de Vere Cole, the niece of the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was really fun and exciting - I do love being transported to the late 1930's London High Society just before the time England went to war against Germany. I thought that the research that was put in was impeccable and the writing was immersive and had rich detail. I loved reading about the life and times of the debutantes and high society from the balls to the gowns, and even the gossips. But more than that is the political climate of the time with its simmering tension and even discussions about class and gender that was included in the novel. 

Slow burn but did give me a lot of insight about the historical timeframe with its questionable rules and traditions.
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This novel fictionalizes the life of Valerie de Vere Cole, the niece of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in her coming-out season in London, 1939. With vivid detail and a stark amount of research, Blalock paints an incredibly realistic picture of young adults trying to cling to family, friendship and love as it could all be immediately stolen from them on the brink of World War II. 

This was an absolutely gorgeous work of historical fiction. In the era of shows like Downton Abbey and Bridgerton, there’s certainly a ripe market for stories of debutantes and balls in London, and Georgie Blalock does a wonderful job of keeping the magic going. My only criticism of this book is that there wasn’t more of it. Just stunning.
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Historical fiction just is not for me.  There was nothing wrong with this book at all.  I was just bored.  Unfortunately, i've learned my lesson and will not be requesting HF anymore.
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3.5 stars rounded up.

I want to start off by saying that I loved the premise of this book. An entire group of Debutantes who will inevitably watch all eligible bachelors be marched off to war is such an interesting but also devastating concept.

I enjoyed the character of Valerie. Abandoned by her mother coupled with her father’s sordid past has now led her to be taken in by her aunt and uncle, who is none other than Neville Chamberlain. I loved this connection. History has not been kind to the man who tried to appease Hitler, so I found this portrayal of him fascinating! 

Where I found this book a little lacking was in the actual plot. The characters who were the most interesting to read about were glossed over. I feel with a little more character development and a bit more depth this book would have been a 5 star read for me!
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1939

Miss Valerie de Vere Cole is the niece of Mrs. Anne Chamberlin, wife of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin and lives with them at No. 10 Downing Street.  Valerie’s aunt has taken her under her wing for her come out.  She, along with all the other debutantes, has made her curtsy to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.  

Valerie’s father was a joke among society and is now deceased.  Her mother literally abandoned her.  She spent her childhood in a French boarding school which was dreadful and has left her with some dark secrets.

Valerie is enjoying meeting some nice young debutantes and learning how some of the girls are kind and friendly, but there are also some who are mean and jealous.  Her Aunt Anne is a very wise woman and is helping her to navigate the waters in this world of high society.

The country is on the cusp of World War II with the Prime Minister and his office working hard to try and keep war from becoming a reality.  In the meantime, the young people all know that is probably going to happen and they want to have as much fun as they can before they have to face what is coming. 

I liked this book as it follows these young people into adulthood.  They faced times of real stress that tested their strength and how they would handle difficult times in their futures.  We see how they enjoy life and learn to simply grow up.  Unfortunately, the looming war pushed them to grow up faster.  The way that Neville and Anne Chamberlin are portrayed  gave me great respect for them both.  They served their country well.  It also pleased me how the author showed respect and appreciation for the secretaries at No. 10 Downing Street with their unfailing dedication to their jobs for their country.  A very heartwarming book that I know many will enjoy.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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