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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Season
Had expected this book to be more about debutantes and parties and the end of an era in that respect - and it was, in part but it covered much more besides, dealing with all sorts of events in the months leading up to the second world war.

Full of interesting statistics and anecdotes, one of my favourites early on stated 'the rich drove Daimlers, Rolls Royces...
Published on 20 Feb. 2010 by Maybaby

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in places but too fragmented
I am not sure who this book is aimed at. For those interested in the upper class 'season' there are details of frocks, menus, wines and guests at key events. I got rather tired of these after a while as the lists went on and on - I had hoped for more analysis and opinion rather than lists. The more general social history was interesting but in short supply. A chapter here...
Published on 10 Oct. 2012 by Zeudy Tigre


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Season, 20 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: 1939: The Last Season (Paperback)
Had expected this book to be more about debutantes and parties and the end of an era in that respect - and it was, in part but it covered much more besides, dealing with all sorts of events in the months leading up to the second world war.

Full of interesting statistics and anecdotes, one of my favourites early on stated 'the rich drove Daimlers, Rolls Royces and the now forgotten Lanchester (it's selling point: at 50 m.p.h. you can knit comfortably)'.

The inclusion of an advert for Elizabeth Arden, fascinated me, it read:

Beauty Marches On

'It's her duty to face the future calm and unruffled. Beauty - like business - must go on. The wise woman in a period of strain and crisis will keep up her regular night and morning routine of Cleansing, Toning and Nourishing - with Elizabeth Arden's famous Essential Preparations - Cleansing Cream, Skin Tonic and Orange Skin Food or Velva Cream - to which her skin owes its freshness, smoothness and delicacy, her features their clear-cut and youthful outline. On this basis her beauty is securely founded. To remain beautiful she regards as an obligation to herself and her friends'.

I was also interested to read about the Duke of York camps founded by the King, when he was Duke of York, and convinced of the importance of breaking down barriers between social classes. At the camps, boys from widely differing backgrounds spent a week together in the open air as his guests. One highlight at a camp in Scotland was walking three miles to Balmoral, where the boys had been asked to tea by the King and Queen. At the last camp however, there were fewer competitive games, instead there were expeditions and outings, which the King usually joined, believing that war was imminent so wanting the camp to have a more informal personal flavour.

An interesting and amusing slice of social history.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating stuff, 23 Aug. 2009
By 
John Davison - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 1939: The Last Season (Paperback)
There are a few editing oversights, at one point leading to unintentionally hilarious results: "Joseph Kennedy and his wife Rose, in a pale green frock embroidered with green crystal beads, received the royal couple".

This is a five-star book for anyone interested in clothes - there is page after page of detail. Frankly, by half-way through, even this nostalgia-addict was beginning to get weary of partying: it's kind of disillusioning to realise that most of the upper-classes did very little else.

The wonderful sections of the book are those which look behind the scenes. The introduction: "What was Great Britain like in 1939?", developed further in chapter one, the sections on the medical profession and, especially, on the life of servants, made one hungry for more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dresses, Health, Politics, Tragedy, it has it all!, 21 Mar. 2012
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This review is from: 1939: The Last Season (Paperback)
I've had this book sitting on my book shelf for years, unread. First I saved it for a rainy day, and then I thought it would be a too vain and frivolous book, for my liking. But when I finally picked it up to read, I was very pleasantly surprised. Loving social history and knowing how well Anne de Courcy writes, this book perfectly described 1939. Last year I read Richard Overy's 1939: Countdown to Wa, which is a very "male" book with lots of Real politics. The last Season, also covers that same politics, but doesn't overdo it. The politics also comes in, in a more natural way like when the debutantes have to face dancing with more and more men in uniform or that cancel coming because of service. Secondly it comes in, in many of the descriptions of the new King and Queen. Their state visit to Canada is extended to the US since war is brewing and the President there wants to meet them and discuss the situation. Chamberlain's struggles are also described when he has to try to wrestle Hitler, Mussolini, the French, the Russians, and launch a debutante niece at the same time.

Some chapters are a little bit frivolous of course when fashion and dresses are described, courting rituals among the rich, chaperones, misbehaviour etc. But then you are thrown in to a chapter like the one about Thetis, and it gets very serious. The submarine went out on it's maiden trip with double crew, to celebrate, and to be tested for fitness. When it failed to surface again, noone noticed thanks to human error, and only four people managed to escape the tomb that it became to all the others.

Some of the best chapters are really about women's situation in general during this time, about servants and how their roles changed during and after the war, and finally the chapter on health that was hilarious in some aspects. It discussed how obsesses the British people were with bowel movements and I laughed so hard at the comment, that had Hitler read a British newspaper, and there seen all the advertisements and talk about how to avoid constipation, then he would have thought that the British were too occupied with their bowels to pay attention to what he was up to.

My only negative view on this book is the fact that I am not content with the photo sections. For example: Marina, Duchess of Kent, is mentioned over and over in the book. She was a fashion icon, a beauty, invited to all parties, and yet there is not a single photo of her which I think is poor, since the web is not helpful there either. Another example is the constant mentioning of Lady Londonderry's and the Duchess of Devonshire's extra-ordinary tiaras. They were something out of this world and as a reader, one wants to see what is described! Instead, some of the photos that are found, have no importance in the book, and could have been excluded. People and things that are dominant in the text, really should be so in the photos as well!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent account..., 3 May 2010
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: 1939: The Last Season (Paperback)
of the "last 'Season'", the spring and summer of 1939. There was a strong sense among all layers of society that war with Germany was inevitable. Conflict had been staved off a year earlier with Chamberlain's "Appeasement" at Munich, which basically "gave" Czechoslovakia to Hitler. (As a side note, the "appeasement" did give the British {and French} another year in which to prepare for war.)

De Courcy, an excellent writer, looks at all levels of society, while focusing on the royal family and the upper-classes, who went through the "Season" of horse races, debutante balls, cricket matches, rowing-at-Henley, etc.

At the "Season's" end, September 1st, Hitler's troops invaded Poland at Danzig, bringing on war, which was formally declared on September 3rd. The nation's young men, whose fathers had gaily marched off in 1914 to The War To End All Wars, enlisted in THEIR war with more resignation and trepidation, knowing already the evils of war. And their "at home" families now knew that raids from the skies could bring destruction
that Britain hadn't known in WWI, where France and other continental countries bore the brunt of four years of fighting.

This is a very good book for history buffs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 8 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: 1939: The Last Season (Paperback)
If you want to read all about the glamour of life as a deb than - although there are snippets of it in Anne de Courcy's book - this isnt the book for you. If, however, you want to gain a sense what was going on in England (and abroad) in the late thirties and the build up to the war without reading painfully long, boring written, history books then this is for you. When I finished it my immediate thought was 'if only my history teacher had spoken the way anne de courcy writes, I might not have dropped history at school so early on!'. She writes in a relaxed, unpretentious, slightly gossipy, fun way and inserts quotes from people she has interviewed which do the same. Brilliant and fascinating.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute gem of social history, 13 Jan. 2008
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This review is from: 1939: The Last Season (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book, full of fascinating snippets and beautifully written. Land prices, minimum wages, what people ate (and the cost of eating out), how they travelled, how and where they lived, the first weather forecast (no, not in the UK, but Paris!), why clubs for men and women were founded in London... If this sounds like a shopping list, it does the book a serious injustice. It is an enjoyable, leisurely read which weaves in facts and figures where relevant and paints a vivid picture of a time which will never come again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars serious society, 13 Jan. 2013
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I think I expected this to be a bit more of a jolly romp through the end of an era of upper class snobbery and elite pursuits; it is in fact quite a serious look at the inevitable approach to war in the late1930;s, and the political and social manipulation taking place as some cliques attempted to continue negotiating with Hitler etc. Many fascinating facts of daily life are popped into the rich mix, like raisins in the cake. If you like learning about social history and hate Downton this is for you - if you love Downton then there aren't enough pictures in this book! I was pleased to get through it without being assaulted by Mitfords ...
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting in places but too fragmented, 10 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: 1939: The Last Season (Paperback)
I am not sure who this book is aimed at. For those interested in the upper class 'season' there are details of frocks, menus, wines and guests at key events. I got rather tired of these after a while as the lists went on and on - I had hoped for more analysis and opinion rather than lists. The more general social history was interesting but in short supply. A chapter here and there throughout the book offering an insight into life for other segments of society at this time - I would have liked more. The political history was more detailed than I expected and suggested that the author had personal access to a number of the protaginists. Interesting in parts but rather dry. These three threads (upper class life, the rest of society, the politics of the time) running through the book offered some insights but seemed disjointed. An easy enough read but, with it's jumps from topic to topic, did not flow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well recommended book - exceeded expectations., 21 Mar. 2013
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I could not put this book down (and like most women I don't get enough time to read). It exceeded expectations because there was a lot of real history to it about the politics and social scene of the time, which I find fascinating anyway. I was born too late!! I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn about that part of history and to anyone who was actually there. Very readable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A companion to Angela Lambert book of a similar title., 3 April 2014
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This review is from: 1939: The Last Season (Paperback)
I read Angela Lambert's 1939 The Last Season Of Peace and was very happy until I found this. It's like the other side of the same coin. De Courcy expands subjects (sometimes giving then a whole chapter ) that Lambert just touches on. I expected there to be a lot of repetition but there was not, hence the companion description. I happily re-read both.
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1939: The Last Season
1939: The Last Season by Anne de Courcy
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