This book was inspired by a visit Tasmina Perry made to Kensington Palace in 2010 where there was an exhibition about the last of the Debutantes’ in London in 1958.
We are first introduced to Amy Carrell, who is dumped right before Christmas, leaving her confused and broken-hearted. With nothing to lose, she answers an unusual magazine advertisement requesting a companion to New York.
Enter Georgia Hamilton, an elderly British aristocrat who has always wanted to visit Manhattan and so she hires Amy and off they go across the Atlantic. Amy is eager to learn lots about her eccentric new friend and it is through Georgia that we are thrown back to London in the 1950s and learn of the fated romance that changed her life forever.
In the present day, Georgia teaches Amy the arts of elegance and etiquette that she learnt as a debutant. As Amy learns more about Georgia’s life and a family secret that has affected her for so many years, she takes it upon herself to try and mend Georgia’s broken heart, even if her help is not initially welcomed. Georgia was my favourite character; she has had such an interesting life and I loved finding out about it on this emotional journey.
Speaking at the first Rooftop Book Club, Tasmina mentioned how she liked the idea of an old/young dynamic between the characters which influenced the story. Georgia imparts lots of knowledge and experience to Amy, but in return, she gains a different perspective and almost a second lease of life during her time spent with the younger woman. Even under such unconventional circumstances, their relationship is written quite realistically and you become thoroughly involved in the storyline.
I adored the historic flashbacks. The Debutante scene is one I’ve not come across in fiction before and I couldn’t imagine going through it myself! But I enjoyed reading about the etiquette and the affluent parties, the social climbing and the romance of it all. Tasmina spoke to people that were part of that era and that authenticity really shows in the writing.
The New York journey was also interesting; it’s not a place I have yet been to myself, but Georgia and Amy experienced the cultured, arty side of things, as well as some foodie treats at some New York eateries that I enjoyed reading about.
The book ended a little abruptly for me, but I think that’s because I wanted to know more about Georgia and also see what happened with Amy’s character. Great historical details and sense of place, with romance and mystery added in, The Proposal was a fascinating and absorbing read that left me wanting more!