The Last Debutante by Lesley Lokko
|The Last Debutante by Lesley Lokko|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An epic story which runs from 1936 to 2014. One action will reverberate down a family for generations to come. An engaging story.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336/14h20m||Date: December 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
In 1936 in Chalfont Hall in Dorset young Kit Algernon-Waters can't really understand what's going on: at thirteen years old she's been banished to have supper in the nursery whilst everyone else is dining downstairs with the guests. Even her elder sister, Lily, who's sixteen is dining with these unnamed 'guests'. Kit has tapped all her usual sources to find out who the visitors are, but to no avail. All she's managed to work out (well, let's be honest 'find out by eavesdropping' is closer to the truth) is that the visitors are German. Kit's parents, Lord and Lady Wharton, are short of money and it's important that at least one of their daughters makes a good marriage. Six months later Lily is married to one of the German, living in some style in Germany. Within a couple of years she's mixing with some dubious company, including Unity Mitford. It was even rumoured that she'd met Hitler.
Lord and Lady Wharton are not brave: Lady Wharton, particularly, is devastated about what this will do to their social life when it emerges that their daughter is a Nazi sympathiser and to her there's one obvious thing to do: send Kit to Germany to bring her sister home. Kit's just sixteen, so an Uncle is sent with her, but no account is taken of the fact that Kit and Lily were never close when they were living in the same house. How on earth is Kit to persuade Lily? That quickly becomes academic when something happens that will change Kit's life irrevocably and will affect future generations of the family.
I was surprised that I'd never encountered anything by Lesley Lokko before: she tells the sort of tale which you have to keep reading and I managed to finish it in a couple of days when I really should have been doing something else. Kit's the secret weapon, you see. Even before her life changes you have to love her. She's not the favoured child in the family and she doesn't quite have Lily's looks. She's not a girly girl either - she'd much rather be out with the horses and the dogs. Then, when everything goes pear-shaped and the family think about their position before they think about Kit's welfare, despite the fact that they were the ones who got her into the situation, you can't help hoping that something will go right for her.
The story moves from the Dorset countryside, to London, then to Iraq, Oman and the West Indies. The pacing is superb: there was never a moment when the story felt a little dull - and I'm not usually keen on wartime fiction. I did wonder about the way in which history seems to repeat itself, but that's me being very picky and it certainly wouldn't stop me reaching out for another of Lokko's books. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of The Last Debutante to the Bookbag.
As well as reading the book I listened to an audio download narrated by Julia Barrie. She has a good range of voices and I was impressed. I'd happily listen to more books narrated by her.
If this book appeals then I think you might enjoy Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell.
You could get a free audio download of The Last Debutante by Lesley Lokko with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Last Debutante by Lesley Lokko at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Last Debutante by Lesley Lokko at Amazon.com.
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