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"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile." - William Cullen Bryant

Friday, June 18, 2010

She Walks in Beauty...Review

About the book:
During New York City's Gilded Age...THE GAME is played amid banquets and balls. THE PRIZE is a lifetime of wealth and privilege. THE RULES will test friendships and the desires of a young woman's heart. Clara Carter is the social season's brightest start... BUT AT WHAT COST? 


For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage in the late 1890s, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. 

Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling. Yet Clara wonders if this is the life she really wants, especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. 

When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is, and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her heart at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game. 

I'd had my eye on this book for some time, simply because the cover was so gorgeous.  The book itself is fantastic.

I normally don't like first person narration, but Siri Mitchell really carries this off.  Clara is a wonderful heroine.  Strong, spunky and ever so likeable.  As she reluctantly enters the debutante season, we are privy to the inside workings of 1890's Gilded Age high society which is, at once, both intriguing and tragic.

Clara loves books and learning.  She wants to marry for love.  But, her father and aunt seem to think that the family's honor is at stake and she must marry the richest, most sought-after bachelor.  Clara must procure his affections, no matter the cost of friendships or deception.  In order to debut, Clara is put through an amazing rigmarole of etiquette lessons, dance lessons and dress fittings. Her slim, 22-inch waist is deemed gargantuan by her aunt and she is fitted for a corset that will force her to eventually achieve an 18-inch waist, because that is what society demands.

I always knew that corsets were one of the worst articles of clothing ever inflicted on women, and the insights from Clara proved this to be true.  So many health issues arose from the wearing of the corset yet, irregardless of them, women still allowed themselves to be pressured into wearing them to achieve some horrific, superficial results.

Clara's frustrations at the need to be socially entertaining, yet unable to talk about anything of substance are a perfect example of that ridiculous social mores people seemed to think important.  I loved her spunk and the way she finally fought back.  As she uncovers secrets about the society she moves within, she also uncovers secrets about her family and discovers truths about the world outside.  A world that hers avoids.

Light Christian, this is a wonderful narrative of the time, and an engaging story about a delightful young girl coming of age in 1890's New York.  I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to reading Siri Mitchell's other books.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Siri Mitchell here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/10

* * * * *
5/5 Stars


1 comment:

  1. so glad to hear you liked it! I loved this one1 :)

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