The Season

Written by Sophia Holloway
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

Seventeen-year-old, country-bred Henrietta Gaydon is about to make her debut in polite society, together with her cousin Caroline, under the aegis of her formidable aunt, Lady Elstead. Henrietta is unsure whether she wants to leave her beloved father and his godson, her ‘special’ friend, Lord Henfield. Being suddenly in the marriage mart is terrifying. Will she cope? Charles Henfield, too, has problems: his feelings for Henrietta are far more than that of an ‘older brother’ (the role he used to play), but could Henrietta ever see him as a lover and potential husband?

There are a number of problems with The Season, the main one being that little actually happens. There are balls galore during which Charles dithers and Henrietta agonizes, as well as a balloon ascension (could have been dramatic, but all went well), being caught in a storm (they got wet), and so on. The worst problem is that Charles’s inability to do some serious courting makes him come across as, frankly, a wimp. It isn’t until later in the story that Charles suddenly becomes ‘action man’ and takes charge. He rescues a minor female character from a nasty villain, sorts out her tiresome young brother, and brings an unhappy situation to a satisfactory conclusion. But by this time, I’m afraid, I’d lost interest in him.

On the plus side, Sophia Holloway knows her stuff. I sympathized with Henrietta as she struggled with the ridiculous garments and ostrich feather headdress which were de rigueur for a debutante’s presentation to the Queen—a ceremony she must carry out flawlessly. The author also gets across the importance of a young lady avoiding numerous faux pas and catching a husband in her first Season; and I enjoyed the tit-for-tat bitchy behaviour of the two aristocratic ladies who loathed each other.