1939: The Last Season

Even though I've only read one of her books before 1939: The Last Season that I think I would have called myself a fan of Anne de Courcy's writing. I like the period that she covers. I've had 1939: The Last Season for awhile. The first day of 2011 had me looking at my bookshelves wondering what to read. I didn't want to pick up another Heyer, having just read two in a row but I was in the mood for something British. It had been awhile since I read a history (as opposed to a historical) and the time just felt right.

It was the last season of peace before WWII broke out. I'd read bits and pieces about this time, mostly more military/political point of view and it was also discussed in the biography I read about the Queen Mum. I had never really read anything specifically focused on the socialite season.

I read this book while I was sick. I had wicked vertigo due to an inner ear infection and the only thing I really could do was read. Watching tv or looking at the computer made my head swim. I spent the day on the couch with the fake cat (who, you all should know, is a blanket thief and a space hog) immersing myself in a world of ballgowns and the feeling of impending doom. My ability to focus wasn't great so the fact that I enjoyed every last second of this book probably says something about the writing.

De Courcy has a way of writing that is informative and full of names  (and when we are talking about the British aristocracy we're talking multiple names for each person) and facts but doesn't just feel like a recitation of facts. She finds stories in them and tells them in an entertaining way. Sometimes she goes off on what first seem like odd tangents but they kind of work their way into the story she's telling -- like the section on laxatives. She really had to write it in an entertaining way for me to be able to follow it while the room tilted whenever I looked away from the book. But it wasn't all ballrooms. She made sure that the reader knew what was going on in the political sphere as well. It was actually a pretty seamless move from ballroom to the backrooms of Parliament as it was mostly the same families.

A great start to a new year of reading.