**A Smithsonian Best History Book of 2019
“Sparkling.” —Genevieve Valentine, NPR**
Kristen Richardson traces the social seasons of debutantes on both sides of the Atlantic, sharing their stories in their own words, through diaries, letters, and interviews conducted at contemporary balls. Richardson takes the reader from Georgian England to colonial Philadelphia, from the Antebellum South and Wharton’s New York to the reimagined rituals of African American communities. Originally conceived as a way to wed daughters to suitable men, debutante rituals have adapted and evolved as marriage and women’s lives have changed. An inquiry into the ritual’s enduring cultural significance, The Season also reveals the complex emotional world of the girls at its center, whose every move was scrutinized and judged, and on whose backs family fortunes rested.