Having read two books about the 1939 debutante season (the last season before WW2), I thought this book might be an interesting addition since it describes the final time (in 1958) the debs were actually presented to the monarch - sort of the final word on a yearly event that had began in the Georgian period. I was right, and I was wrong: the manner in which the book is written is such a mishmash that it's difficult to get engaged with the story. Fiona MacCarthy is a biographer and a journalist, and her writing skills are evident in this book. It is divided into two sections. The first is on the season, itself, with an almost blow-by-blow account of what ball/tea party/cocktail party happened when and the girls (some as young as 16) who participated. The second (shorter) covers the lives of some of the girls and their varied responses to life in the radically changed 1960's; this segment is, well, segmented: it's almost as if the author jotted down thoughts as they came to her, thus the segues are almost non-existent.
The book contains funny vignettes, ironic histories, and sad stories, but in a piecemeal manner. Sometimes it's too detailed (the actual costs of a caterer) and sometimes it's so vague that I found myself going back a page or two to see if the person/topic had changed when I 'wasn't looking'. It often felt like a metaphorical whiplash.
Some of the debs seemed to be very interesting on introduction, but she would never mention them again (e.g. Dominie Riley-Smith), and the stories of others were disjointed, jumping almost between decades and she does nothing to explain motives for (in some cases, very radical) alternatives in lifestyle. For her own story, she mentions her marriage, then goes to her other liaison with no information of what happened and why - if she didn't want to go into such personal details, that's fine, but don't bring it up in the first place. I felt the book would have been more interesting (and a better read) if she had selected a few girls as representatives and followed them in detail - it certainly would have been a more coherent read.
I also agree with one reviewer, above, regarding the epilogue on Diana, Princess of Wales. It's poorly written (it feels stuck on) and seems like a gratuitous addition, the only value of which (I can see) is that this book would show up in an on-line search by those who are interested in information on this well-known person.
Basically, if one wants to get a detailed listings of the events of the 1958 Debutante Season, this is your book. It one wants a coherent story of a final chapter not only of an event, but almost a way of life - look elsewhere.