Wednesday, October 13, 2021

"The Last Debutantes"

Georgie Blalock is a history and movie buff who loves combining her different passions through historical fiction, and a healthy dose of period piece films. When not writing, she can be found prowling the non-fiction history section of the library or the British film listings on Netflix or in the dojo training for her next karate black belt rank. Blalock also writes historical romance under the name Georgie Lee.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Last Debutantes, and reported the following:
On page 69 of The Last Debutantes, Valerie de Vere Cole, niece of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, is leaving to enjoy tea with other debutantes. Valerie’s cousin, Dorothy, the Chamberlain’s daughter, insists that Valerie be accompanied by a chaperone, but Valerie doesn’t agree. Dorothy wins the argument and forces Miss Holmes, one of the secretaries at No. 10 Downing St. where Valerie lives, to leave her work and chaperone Valerie. There is tension between Valerie, Dorothy and Miss Holmes as different views of social rules, work, class, and a young lady’s behavior come into conflict. The page 69 test works well for this book because readers see the conflict between aristocratic women and working women and how Valerie is caught between the two. Also, Dorothy bluntly reminds Valerie that although she has the lineage to participate in society, her impoverished upbringing means that she is an outsider who doesn’t understand society’s rules and expectations.

This conflict between the different worlds that Valerie must navigate is a central point of the novel. I read about Valerie de Vere Cole, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s niece, when I began researching the 1939 debutante season. Although there are few details about Valerie and her season, I was fascinated by her place at the center of British social life and politics on the verge of World War II. Valerie, because of her lineage, should have enjoyed every advantage but thanks to her father, she hadn’t. After his death, she was thrust into the social whirl while living at No. 10 Downing St. and she saw firsthand the lead up to World War II. The contrast between her past and present and the pressure of encroaching war offered a great deal to work with. She was a unique debutante during a very distinctive season. I hope readers come away inspired to overcome whatever challenges they face in life and to see that there is always a chance to reinvent themselves or begin again, and that good friends can make all the difference. I also hope they are intrigued and want to further explore this small moment in history and the young women who were a part of it.
Visit Georgie Blalock's website.

My Book, The Movie: The Other Windsor Girl.

The Page 69 Test: The Other Windsor Girl.

My Book, The Movie: The Last Debutantes.

Q&A with Georgie Blalock.

--Marshal Zeringue