Book Jacket

 

rank 5917
word count 22635
date submitted 08.01.2010
date updated 06.02.2010
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Gay
classification: universal
incomplete

Debutante

Phillip Ross

Drama set in Manchester, England. A tense first person account of a young girl and her misadventures with life, love and the perils of privilege.

 

'For a young, somewhat naive teenage girl, the lifestyle had an addictive quality that even the most murderously moreish substances couldn’t replicate. And ultimately that is what killed us all. Because even as it killed us, even as we were aware that it was killing us, we all went back for more.'

At 15 years old, Michelle Blanchett was given her own flat in Manchester city centre and a monthly allowance, the rich-kid equivalent of being thrown out. Estranged from her parents and with only the tacit disapproval of her cleaner Julia acting as her set of boundaries, she forges a series of destructive friendships and relationships with people in and around Manchester's gay scene. Debutante is her journal, a deeply personal and cuttingly direct look at the mistakes which led her to rehab and the funeral of her greatest love.

 
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tags

, contemporary, drama, dystopian, gritty

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63 comments

 

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DenniTowle wrote 678 days ago

Very good read! Not my usual genre, but a good read. Keep it up! Backed!

gerry01 wrote 1507 days ago

Hi, I agree with Eveleen and was going to make exactly the same comment. I don't think there is any dialogue.
You should maybe change the first chapter somewhat. It is the catch. People have to connect immediately and you need something a little more dynamic. The story is good as is the dialogue in the second chapter. Try to show t\rather than tell too much in the first and you could be on to a winner. All the Best.

Eveleen wrote 1507 days ago

I miss dialogue in the first chapter, but it's a well written piece. Might you havbe time, look at mine.

MiniMePom wrote 1533 days ago

Well written. The prose flows well--easy to read. Backed.

jaci wrote 1533 days ago

I've been to Manchester many times, and you bring it to life well.
Nice work.

Best,
Jacquelyn Jaye
Ballroom Madness

Christina McClean wrote 1533 days ago

Hi there
I liked the directness and honesty of the voice that comes through and the short sentence structure goes well with this voice. There are emotions conveyed well through the descriptions of the weather, states of mind that on some level we identify with and I like the strong ending, 'That I might be foolish and headstrong enough to ignore my past, and once again piss all over my future.'
Backed with pleasure.
Christina
From Under the Bed

William Holt wrote 1534 days ago

Very nice work in the claustrophobic vein of Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground. Your MC's voice feels almost too real. I think I knew her in another life.

And I have a son who went through some of this--losing a brother he loved/hated, suddenly, in an auto wreck. He spends much of his time now, many years later, manning the suicide-prevention hot lines at his place of work, deciding quickly whether to involve a psychiatrist or the police. The work tends to keep his grief alive, but he does it willingly.

I like your ironic title. Shelved.

Bill

klouholmes wrote 1534 days ago

Hi Phillip, This feels shatteringly honest. The morose outset is rationalized in the relating of the funeral and the deaths that Michelle has experienced. When she tells about her parents, although angry, she again comes off as justified in thinking through the crisis that leaves her as the offset of the family break-up. There were some vivid phrases there: “singe the acid memory”, “the frosty atmosphere of the house held me close, like a coat on a winter’s day”, “poison into each other’s ears on the phone.” The narrative and her therapy sessions increased my interest in her and especially in her thoughts about faulting people, including herself. She’s incisive and hurt, a forthright personality. Yet it’s illuminating. Shelved – Katherine (The Swan Bonnet)

Marko wrote 1534 days ago

Some nice phraseology here, Phillip. Michelle's bitterness is effectively conveyed - as is the gloom of Manchester in winter. People from privileged backgrounds often do seem to be the most discontented, and you show this effectively.

Presumably the underlying unhappiness in the first chapter, presages a sense of tragedy to come, so I will read on with some trepidation.

Good luck with the book. Backed.

Marko (Brief Encounters)

beegirl wrote 1535 days ago

This is rich in atmosphere and sadness. You make us care about this girl and worry for her. Well done.
Barbara
The Sea Pillow

KW wrote 1536 days ago

"Rain creates a sense of subtle mistrust . . . and betrayal too . . . nothing inspires hope like sunshine." Nice way to begin. I feel like the protagonist, "I'm fresh out of hope." Now, the reader wants to know why. "The windows rattle with the wind . . . even my home rebels against the cold." So do I, my friend, so do I. "Whichever person said that money can't buy you happiness clearly had more money than they reasonably know what to do with." Yep, so true. You are shelved. I'm looking forward to reading more once I get a little more time or money.

Tawn Anderson wrote 1536 days ago

This book sets its tone from the gates. I was drawn to the characters and then taken deeper. You have a fluid writing style and rich descriptions. As you read, you picture Michelle and the world around her. When I read your pitch, I understood that the book, was in essence, her journal. However, I'm not sure in reading it that this coming through. Not because it isn't beautifully written in first person, but because when people write in journals, I don't think they use the strong storytelling voice as is coming through in your book. I don't think you should change a thing in your style or words... they are heartbreakingly real, it was just something that crossed my mind. I think this book has tremendous potential and I wish you the very best of luck. Backed with pleasure.

Tawn Anderson (Providence)

C W Bigelow wrote 1536 days ago

Phillip, you've created an engaging, though despondent character with beautiful descriptions and very realistic commentary on the trials of depression brought on the ugly realities of her life. What makes her so enthralling is her insight into her problems and the suspicion that much of the ugliness is caused by her own actions. Time will tell, I suppose. I'm enjoying. Backed. CW (To Save the Sun)

Nit wrote 1538 days ago

Phillip,

What intrigued me most about the detailed, introspective, and very well written history of this character who has hit rock bottom is that where dysfunctional families, drug abuse, and tragedy are concerned, the most affluent aren't affected any differently than the most impoverished. I suppose the deciding factors of the individual within any societal class where these issues are concerned is the mettle of their inner strength and just how far they can be pushed before they ultimately break.

Backed.

Best wishes,
Nit

JupiterGirl wrote 1538 days ago

Hi Philip, A very interesting novel. Part internal thought-provoking dialog and then, an almost sad but whimsical journey. Intriguing to say the least. Shelved. JupiterGirl (Twins of the Astral Plane_

John Booth wrote 1538 days ago

Hi Phil
This is a tough read in many ways. Unremitting internal philosophising through chapter 1 and the first dialogue doesn't occur until almost halfway through chapter 2. Not something I would buy, but I like your writing and I think you do make your MC convincing. Certainly good enough for me to shelve.

Two pieces of advice I can give.

Many of your paragraphs are too long for reading online ( a eye tracking issue) and I think you should break up the longer ones to improve readability.

Consider the narrative. Each chapter should lead the reader to the next one and the pace should vary across the chapter. Chapter 1 is largely an information dump and as a result reads rather flat. You should consider moving the story on in each chapter, especially chapter 1

Good luck with this

John

Francesco wrote 1539 days ago

Liked it! Backed it!
A look at mine would be appreciated.
Frank, Sicilian Shadows.

David Fearnhead wrote 1539 days ago

Having spent time living in Northern England, and then living overseas I connected immediately to the sentiments expressed in your opening paragraph It is clear there is a depression hanging over this story, much like the grey clouds of Manchester. Yet it was not laid on so thick as to make me discontinue reading. I find I wish to learn more of Michelle and of the characters you mention. There are many question you cause the reader to ask, firstly What is this seeming curse which leaves Daniel, Chris, and Howard dead...Nathan in prison. You got my interest, and kept it.
Happy to put it on my shelf.
David
Bailey of the Saints

jtgradishar wrote 1540 days ago

I think this does a nice job of setting up a character. It gives us a peak, one presumes, at what is to come in the story. The prose is good; there might be a couple words here and there that could be snipped, but for the most part it flows well.

Nicely done and worth backing!

cbearly wrote 1541 days ago

Phillip:

This is an extremely well written story. You have a knack for detail that puts the reader in the moment.

Though out of my usual genre for reading, the synopsis intrigued me. As a romance writer, I tend to look for the silver lining in every story. What is posted thus far doesn't have one. It is the eternal optimist in me that has me hoping your story will end well. I'm a devout Chicago Cub's fan, so what do I know? They haven't won a World Series in over a hundred years.

Pleasure to back.

Candace Bowen Early (A Knight of Silence)

Jim Darcy wrote 1541 days ago

You write with passion and a deep feeling of place. You clearly observe people very well and can evoke their nuances of speech. Christmas can be hell but in that lies hope. Looking forward to reading more. Jim D Serpent's Blood

Bob Steele wrote 1542 days ago

Debutante is descriptive writing of the first order, showing a keen eye for detail and vivid characterisation - Michelle is superbly moody and reflective as a main character, and I enjoyed the easy, first person style that is so well suited to the genre. My only nitpick is that there are quite a few 'it is' and 'there is' which I felt would be better contracted in this first person style. Backed with pleasure.

bonalibro wrote 1543 days ago

Very well done. An interesting character. A very real situation. Like it.

lionel25 wrote 1543 days ago

Phillip, I've looked at your first chapter. Good writing and happy to back this. I've spotted one error that needs correcting.

Fifth paragraph. [Doubtless its either the TV...] Change "its" to "it's"

Happy to back this.

Regards,

Joffrey (The Silver Spoon Effect)

Freeman wrote 1543 days ago

This is well written and Michelle is a great character as your MC. I once had a girlfriend who was from Manchester but sadly I never visited it with her.
This starts off very well and I found it hard to stop reading. I got to the end of the second chapter and I didn’t notice any nits. Although this is not the sort of book I would buy for myself, I would buy it as a present for a friend of mine. I will back your book great pleasure and wish you luck.

Tony
Life Bringer

Bradley Wind wrote 1543 days ago

Phillip,
I already both like and am somewhat repelled by this mc of yours....all the depressing views (understandable in her case)but its well written so on I go.
Can bourbon be heavy-handed?
I'm happy to keep following her on her wits-end life...and glad you brought in Michelle already because I'm hoping that sun takes greater affect on her soon heh.
Michael and Michelle...one of those parents...heh...M's for thems.
This is really well done. Could just be my temperament but I'm often looking for the "oh and here's how it'll turn towards the better"...and occasionally that doesn't happen and I still like the books but rarely. Not that it has to be all Poppins but you know...a glimmer is all.
I do, however, enjoy that she hates Daffodils.
Do therapists really continue on in that annoying fashion when confronted? I'd leave.
Sorry if all that is less than helpful.
I think your talent is huge and this is very compelling...
Best of luck to you.
-=Bradley

SRFire wrote 1544 days ago

A professionally shaped story. Backed with pleasure, Sana

B. J. Winters wrote 1544 days ago

I'll be honest and say that the opening line didn't work for me. Too flowery. If you keep the first paragraph, I think I'd start with Gloomy Manchester. Something about that is simple - it tells me where I am. As a reader it gives me a sense of place rather than metaphore. For an effective hook, I'd then move in and immediately introduce the character -and why I should care about them. In many ways it was about mid chapter before I really felt the hook sink in.

I decided to then jump to your chapter 7. You've set up an interesting story here - and I was able to feel empathy even reading out of context. We all have our baggage about christmas - it could drive anyone to drink. The idea of ballroom dancing to the sounds of the season caught my attention - very visual. Good luck with this.

R.C. Lewis wrote 1544 days ago

You achieve just the right tone of dark melancholy in the opening chapter, hinting at how Michelle has come to this state without spelling it out directly yet. The prose fits in well with literary fiction – nothing chick lit about it, but then, the site doesn’t have a “women’s fiction” option, does it?

A few notes: I don’t think your pitch does the work justice. It tells *about* the book rather than drawing the reader in, persuading them to look at the first page. There’s also some editing to be done – watch out for its/it’s (especially in your very first line) and semicolons.

I think there’s a lot of promise in this, so I’ll give it a spin on my shelf. Best of luck.

R.C. Lewis (Fingerprints)

Snpdrgon wrote 1545 days ago

Excellently written! Beautiful phrasing, vivid, intelligent and real. I love the first-person tone, handing the grief to the reader personally. Best thing I've read so far on this site. And perhaps altogether, in a very long time.

You are true to your talent. Thank you.

Lisa~

paxie wrote 1546 days ago

Phillip

This is quite heavy, in a nice sense.....You craft your MC well.... I feel I know him.....It's quite rare for a book to open baring the raw emotions of a man, a welcome change from the women being the one to pour her heart out......Women will feel sorry for him, I do....I want to get to know him better.....

I dont think you need to use brackets.....Your writing voice is powerful enough for the reader to know when you are 'dropping your tone'

I LOVED this....Best of luck with it...

Shelved with good wishes.

LittleDevil wrote 1546 days ago

I've stopped at the end of chapter two as I'm out of time, but would happily have read on. In fact I have to find out where all this is heading. So much to like about this. It's a little slow to begin with, not that it matters, I coped with it whereas I am usually quite impatient. But the constant little droplets of information hooked me along the way. The second chapter really picked up pace and I enjoyed this a lot. The relationship between Michelle and her parents was beautifully handled. Well not so beautiful, but the way you told it was.
More than happy to back this, and I'll pop back soon to see what happens next.
Best wishes
Sue

Aaron Pattis wrote 1549 days ago

Phillip, nice opening of the first chapter. You've painted a picture that is at once gloomy yet full of color for a good story. Wonderfully contrasting shades of grey! I look forward to reading the rest in the coming days.

Aaron, "80 Grit"

gillyflower wrote 1550 days ago

A well written book with an excellent central character. Michelle comes easily to life as we listen to her first person narrator voice, and learn in slowly revealed detail about her relationship with Daniel, who saved her from her life of drugs, and his death, and her deterioration and apathy in every area of her life, including even keeping her flat clean. Your descriptions of your settings are vivid and we can see them as we read. 'Cigarette ash is no respecter of hygienic practices.' This is good. The characters promise to develop in depth and complexity as we read on. Backed.
Gerry McCullough,
Belfast Girls.

Nick Poole2 wrote 1550 days ago

God. "If your brother was alive..."

You unimaginable bitch.

This is very good work, Mr Ross. Emotionally charged. Sometimes I come across work that transcends the game that is Authonomy.

You've missed some apostrophes though.

Nick Poole2 wrote 1550 days ago

Bill Shankly once said that Brian Clough was worse than rain in Manchester.

I'd normally baulk at this much introspection...it's the danger with first person the temptation to meander (in this case drunkenly) around the detritus of life. But this has a mournful resonance, for me at least. So easy to lose one's way when meaning is drained out of life.

Sheila Belshaw wrote 1551 days ago

DEBUTANTE:

Philip,

I was initially drawn to this because it is set in Manchester, UK, where my own novel - Pinpoint - is set. But I soon realised that there is far more appeal to this novel than just its setting.
Although chapter one is exquisitely written, and sets the mood of the chief protagonist, I felt suddenly lit up at the third paragraph of chapter two: My name is Michelle . . . And this is where the involvement really starts.
Sometimes the chatty bits are slightly overdone. After all, this is a novel, not a blog, but on the whole the first person point of view is very well executed, and gives us a unique bird's eye view into poor Michelle's character. But when the dialogue gets going with action and with exposition interwoven, that's when the writing really shines. Well done.

Backed.
Sheila (Pinpoint)

ellen911 wrote 1551 days ago

You have a lovely way with words ('nothing inspires hope like sunshine'). This feels like a story that will pull at my heart. I can feel myself fall into the melancholy of your narrator. I respond more to an overall feeling I get as I read rather than focus on small details. So for me, I would back you in an instant. I would like you to edit your pitch and have a professional read through your book. I say that, because I wouldn't want any small spelling or style detail to deter an editor from reading your work.
Good luck.
Backed.
Ellen
(Thoughts of a Teenage Girl)

Raymond Nickford wrote 1551 days ago

The first scene stamps your style on this book. There is a dry, satirical wit which points sharply towards ironies and anomalies. We feel the narrator's understandable bitterness on looking back at her youth and finding a very tenous emotional link to parents who put wealth and society before valuing her as a person to be loved and valued in her own right.
The emptiness and loss of a rudder, leaves her in a lifestyle in stark contrast and a spiral that follows her depression downwards until Donna's letter holds out for her a glimmer of hope and purpose. But help cannot be distinguished from pity when you're down and so we are left wondering whether Michelle can be helped or even help herself out of the quicksand that her youth has laid for her. Altogether, the quality of writing and the insight into character made me want to read on. Shelved.
Ray
(A Child from the Wishing Well)

Natalie Jones wrote 1552 days ago

This is really well done. Your first person POV is excellent. The first couple of paragraphs in chap 1 is exceptional. I loved the weather analogy and it's so true. In fact, statistically more suicides occur in areas that receive a lot of rainfall and dark gloomy days. The absence of sun has a great impact on humans psyche.

Only a few observations. In the first sentence of chap one you write, 'The sun, it's unforgiving.' I don't think the apostrophe is needed the way the rest of the sentence flows. Also, you use a couple of paranthesis that may be unnecssary, especially since it's firsrt person POV. Why not just make it a sentence unto itself. Finally, there was an exclamation point in one of the sentences that didn't seem appropriate. Real minor stuff here (and subjective), for an otherwise strong first chap.

Best Wishes
Natalie

Lynne wrote 1552 days ago

Philip, what a good writer you are. To say I was surprised when I started to read is an understatement. From your first paragraph, outlining just how I was feeling on this grey winter's day, you had me hooked. Your writing is beautiful in that if flows and carries the reader along. I am happy to shelve this and wish you the success it deserves. Lynne, Brooklyn Bridge.

mll wrote 1552 days ago

I have spent far too much time on this site today and not enough attending to my other obligations. However, in the short read I was able to give your book, I would have to say that it is the first one I have read here that has "grabbed" me - that I would pick up and carry over to the checkout counter at the bookstore.

Not that there are not several other books that I consider well-written here - this is just the first that has truly caught my interest.

Terry Dip wrote 1553 days ago

A voice dipped in melancholy observation. Quite poetic. Maybe it's just me, but I'd like to see more action. That might not be the kind of book this is, though, which makes me someone looking at oranges when we're talking about apples.

S Richard Betterton wrote 1553 days ago

One of the deepest characters I've read on here. 1st person can be difficult but you've carried it off with aplomb. It's shaping up to be a great story. Good stuff! Backed.
Cheers,
Simon
ps. a couple of typos I noticed
Daniels (needs apostrophe, early on chap 1)
Well n case (2nd paragraph chap 3)

seltz69 wrote 1555 days ago

Just polished off chapter one (forgot how hard it is to read at length on a monitor) Cheers to bringing dreary into vogue. I am not an avid fan of fiction in general, but Michelle is so adorably morose: the female left in the wake of a slew of gay men hell bent on destruction of some sort. I'm backing this now with high hopes as I continue.

Well done,

-Steve

david brett wrote 1555 days ago

I am sure this is good, though I guess some people will find the tone and style monotonous - but they have the attention span of a flea who can only stand still long enough to hop, and 'the emotional range of a turnip'.(That is a phrase I propose to appropriate to my own use.) And I do get the urge to give our heroine a strong clip over the ear. But an epic of self-disgust and sarcasm this deserves a gold star rating. How good to find a book that is not at all life-affirming and positive - except in its energy. Backed DB ALL THESE ARE MEMORIES OF MY VOYAGE

Helena wrote 1556 days ago

Hi Philip, I don't know how I feel after reading your opening chapter. its read very real and for all her money and priviledge Michelle has had a dismal life. I don't know whether to believe what she says or whether I think she wallows a little in self pity, but that is what's good about a first person story, we don't know if the narrator is reliable or not. She's a complex character, and to see where she came from to where she is surrounded by filth her life on standstill since Daniels death. This is an interesting story and there is a lot of power to you prose, even poetic in parts especially the opening paragraph. I would love to read on and see how the story develops and what happens to all the dead characters you mentioned at the beginning, its definitely addictive! On my shelf. Helena (A Load of Rubbish)

AlanMarling wrote 1556 days ago

Dear Phillip Ross,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. The idea tickled me that rain creates distrust and gloomy clouds feel like betrayal. Clearly, the sun owes us and hiding behind clouds is just cowardice. I appreciate your active verbs, such as “smother the hate”. You have your protagonist in a deplorable state, both physically and emotionally, which creates tension in the reader to see the completion of a character arc to new life. I’m curious as to why Daniel, Howard, and Chris are all dead. You answer me well enough soon later.

To me, the power of your story comes in at “My name is Michelle Blanchett. And I wasn’t always such a sorry excuse for a human being.” The following paragraph creates a huge amount of sympathy for the protagonist, and now I start caring for her deplorable state. In addition, the paragraph itself is a knockout, robust and powerful, my favorite part being her resentment for her brother dying and immortalizing his perfection. I was glad to see you extend this in the following paragraph. Again, great sympathy for the protagonist here, when divorce seems a breath of fresh air to her. In my fallible opinion, you could make your story much more engaging by starting here.

Bravo! Backed.

Best wishes,
Alan Marling

MKEthridge wrote 1557 days ago

This is very powerful and beautifully written. Backed!

Jo Ellis wrote 1558 days ago

Okay I'm going to start by saying two things, this is fantastic and I don't usually like lit fic.

The reason I don't like lit fic is I don't have the attention span for narrative, this is my failing BUT the thing is your writing drew me and keep me interested, your narrative realistic, lovely and emotive with a great story all at once.

Back story is expertly delivered.... one of very few lit fic's I've been hooked by on site.

Just fab

Jo xx

Spoilt

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