Friday, July 2, 2010

Review: She Walks In Beauty

She Walks In Beauty
By Siri Mitchell
Publication date: April 1, 2010

My review:

Clara Carter does not want to be a debutante. She was hoping to have the opportunity to further her education at Vassar. Unfortunately that is no longer a possibility and she is forced to enter society with the goal of marrying Franklin De Vries, the heir to a large fortune. Clara’s best friend Lizzie also has her heart set on marrying Franklin. Clara believes she doesn’t have any other choice, even when she starts to have feelings for someone else.

She Walks In Beauty is set in New York City during the late 19th century, known as the Gilded Age. During this time, well to do young women had few choices. Their lives were governed by the strict rules of society. Since the death of Clara’s mom, she has been under the care of her physician father and his widowed sister. Clara’s father is an unpleasant man with disturbing secrets. Clara’s aunt can be domineering but she really does care about Clara even though her way of showing it is misguided. She makes Clara wear restrictive corsets and coaches her in the ways of society. Clara is a bright girl but as she gets swept up by glamorous balls and visits to the opera we lose sight of that intelligent young woman. Instead she is replaced by a disappointingly docile creature. Thankfully her love interest, Harry, brings out glimpses of the real Clara again.

I enjoyed the historical details about life in late 19th century New York and the information about the dangers of corsets. I liked Clara’s character although I found her annoyingly naïve at times. She reminded me a little bit of Elizabeth Holland from Anna Godbersen's YA book, The Luxe. While this is a Christian fiction novel there is not a great emphasis on religion. In fact, it is barely mentioned. Instead there is more focus on social injustice and society. She Walks In Beauty is not as good as some of Siri Mitchell’s other historical fiction and it was a little disappointing after the unexpectedly refreshing Love’s Pursuit. Still it was an interesting look at the Gilded Age and the expectations placed on women during that time period.

Readalikes: The Broadmoor Legacy series by Tracie Peterson, The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen, Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard, the Daughters of Boston series by Julie Lessman

3 comments:

  1. I really want to read some more historical-- This looks like a great place to start! I'll be on the look out for your 'Readalikes', too. That's a really awesome idea, it helps me discover so many great books ;D

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  2. I also found Clara to be a little naive, but overall I liked it. I was wondering where to start with her other work, and I think I'll try Love's Pursuit.

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