It was called the London Season, and for three centuries it had been a time of fashionable suppers and brilliant balls that introduced England's most aristocratic and eligible girls to society. Though by 1939 the stately gavottes and minuets had long since given way to waltzes and fox-trots, the cream of young womanhood still curtsied low before the Queen and then went out to dance the night away with the young men they would one day marry.
But the Season of 1939 was different: it was to be the last. And like many a finale, it lives on in memory as a lovely, enchanted dream, all the more beautiful for the horror and destruction that would follow so soon.
Based on a wealth of first-hand reminiscences, press clippings, and memorabilia, 1939: The Last Season of Peace is a fascinating portrait of this fairy tale about to end. Itcaptures the end of an era as it recreates a world whose inhabitants still believed in empire and tradition. It is a vivid picture of a generation suspended in a brief moment of sunlit summer glory, before the gathering storm of World War II swept it all away.
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About the Author
Angela Lambert (1940 - 2007) was a British journalist, art critic and author, best known for the novel A Rather English Marriage.
Born as Angela Maria Helps to a civil servant and a German-born housewife, she was unhappy when sent to Wispers School, a girls' boarding school in Sussex, where by the age of 12 she had decided that she wanted to be a writer. She went to St Hilda's College, Oxford, where she read politics, philosophy and economics. She began her career as a journalist in 1969, working for ITN before joining The Independent newspaper in 1988.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Girls from the Stately Homes of England 1
Chapter 1 Becoming a Deb is a Difficult Matter: Who Did the Season, and Why? 3
Chapter 2 I've Been to London to Look at the Queen 29
Chapter 3 The Childhood of the Debs: Preparing to Be a Beautiful Lady 55
Chapter 4 Change Your Partner, Dance While You Can 74
Part 2 That Unspeakable Summer 99
Chapter 5 The Last Four Months of Peace: May 105
Chapter 6 The Last Three Months of Peace; June 167
Chapter 7 The Last Two Months of Peace: July 235
Chapter 8 The Last Month of Peace: August 292
Part 3 The War: Real, Phoney and Aftermath 311
Chapter 9 This Country Is at War with Germany 313
Chapter 10 An Excellent Introduction for Life? 324
Appendix: Slang Expressions Current in 1939 351
Select Bibliography 355
A Note on the Author 367