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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Review: The Season by Sophie Campbell

Title: The Season: A Summer Whirl Through the English Social Season
Author: Sophie Campbell
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd.
Publish Date: July 1, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From "When travel journalist Sophie Campbell squeezed into heels and a hat to investigate the English social season, she got more than she bargained for. Why, she wondered, were events such as the Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, The Derby at Epsom, Royal Ascot, the Henley Royal Regatta, Wimbledon Fortnight and Glorious Goodwood so formal, so fashionable and so famous? Her hectic and sometimes hilarious journey through the English summer proved as exotic as any tribal rite of passage as she swam the River Thames in the dark, partied with owners and trainers at Ascot, camped out for Wimbledon, joined Irish Travellers at The Derby, infiltrated the parents’ stand at the Eton v Harrow cricket match and got caught using a mobile in the Stewards’ Enclosure at Henley. En route she found a fascinating and surprisingly complex social structure dating back to the time of the Stuart monarchs and involving fashion, food, art and the marriage market. The English summer will never be the same again."

My Two Cents:

"The Season" is a look at the English Social Season, which takes place during the summer and acts as a who's who guide to English society. As a Yank and an Anglophile, I've been fascinated by the social season. We really don't have anything comparable on any large scale here in the States so I was interested to learn a little bit more about these customs.

Ms. Campbell takes us through the entire social season and all of the various sets of customs for each event. These events include horse races, regattas, and the Chelsea Flower Show (this event would probably be my very favorite) among other events What was especially interesting to me was how long some of these traditions and customs have been around for. I also really liked reading about the fashion aspect of these events. It does help to have a little bit of knowledge of what these various events are before you read this book so that you understand what's going on.

This book will appeal to those who want to know a little more about the why of these events. There are some really interesting historical elements to all of these events even though on the surface, they can often seem as simply an excuse to have a really big party! I thought the section about the debutantes were really interesting. Up until the end of the 1950s, families would still bring the eligible young ladies of their families to court to bring them "out," or rather to officially initiate them into the adult world. I didn't realize that happened for so long!

Overall, this is an interesting overview that whet my appetite to find out more about some of these events!



  1. This book sounds fascinating to me. I'm new to living in the UK so I am interested in some of these truly British things that persist.

  2. How intriguing! I hadn't heard of this one, but my anglophile heart is definitely curious . . .


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