Thursday, December 27, 2012
Book Review: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell/5 Stars
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 have always fancifully wished myself in some other era other than my own - preferably one with gorgeous fashion, busy social events, and an enviable last name - but after reading Siri Mitchell's tale of Guilded Era New York with it's tight corsets and marrow shovels, I think my wishing days are over. Siri's portrayal of a young 17-year-old debutante hoping to catch the hand of uber-rich Franklin de Vries was both entertaining as well as heartbreaking. Truly, this novel overflowed with opulence and finery, but the cost such beauty exacted was far too high. Sadly, our culture has not changed over the years in spite of the fact that women no longer wear lacing corsets, but we are still surrounded by the noise and imagery of whether we are "pretty enough." I applaud Siri for tackling such a difficult subject matter amidst the backdrop of the Guilded Era, but I shouldn't be surprised. She has become one of the best authors in Christian historical fiction, and I always appreciate that I gain a bit of history paired with an exciting tale in every one of her novels.
**Many thanks to Bethany House for providing a copy for review.
**For more information about Siri and her novels, please visit http://www.sirimitchell.com/
**To read my review of A Heart Most Worthy (also by Siri Mitchell), click here.