The Season

A Social History of the Debutante
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 9 hrs and 52 mins
Categories: History, American
4 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Kristen Richardson, from a family of debutantes, chose not to debut. But as her curiosity drove her to research this enduring custom, she learned that it, and debutantes, are not as simple as they seem. 

The story begins in England 600 years ago when wealthy fathers needed an efficient way to find appropriate husbands for their daughters. Elizabeth I's exclusive presentations at her court expanded into London's full season of dances, dinners, and courting, extending eventually to the many corners of the British empire and beyond. 

Richardson traces the social seasons of young women on both sides of the Atlantic, from Georgian England to colonial Philadelphia, from the Antebellum South and Wharton's New York back to England. She delves into Jazz Age debuts, carnival balls in the American South, and the reimagined ritual of elite African-American communities. 

The Season shares the captivating stories of these young women, often through their words from diaries, letters, and interviews that Richardson conducted at contemporary balls. The debutantes give voice to an array of complex feelings about being put on display, about the young men they meet, and about what their future in society or as wives might be.

©2019 Kristen Richardson (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Interesting Facts But Reads Like A College Paper

Had to make myself finish this one. I did learn things from reading (hence the two stars), but the interesting facts did not offset the hours spent slogging through what felt like a college research assignment. Most of the book reads like a literature review— any novel, newspaper, or documentary mentioning the society season included. It is sprinkled with a few of the author’s personal experiences written in such a way to make her unlikable— (I felt of out place without my own kid leather deb party gloves.) The attempt at cultural criticism is shallow (all examples of racially disparate balls ignored any northeast examples and tended to focus on the south.)

This book was a real disappointment.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

As serious as the subject

which is not to be taken very seriously. Anecdotal, occasionally mildly amusing. The author actually confuses George V and George VI, which is pretty amazing considering how anglophilic her subject is. And the narrator consistently mispronounces W E B Dubois's name - in a putatively serious sociological history.

1 person found this helpful