Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Review: She Walks in Beauty

The book "She Walks in Beauty" by Siri Mitchell was a surprisingly good read. When I first received the book, I was not sure what I would think because the back cover description was very enigmatic. But the book was enjoyable.

The story centers around a young woman of 17 named Clara Carter. At the start of the book she is busy learning all that she can from her governess. But rather than learning the intracacies of Victorian society and how to dance and flirt, Clara is learning science, mathematics, and literature. In fact, Clara is doing so well that her governess is sure she will be ready to secretly try for acceptance into Vassar College--her only way out of officially debuting in society as an eligible female. Clara and her governess are hoping to beat the clock. She is supposed to debut after her 18th birthday.

Little does CLara know that life has other plans for her, or rather, her aunt has other plans. When CLara's aunt learns that one of the most elligible bachelors in New York is going to be looking for a bride this season, she jumps at the opportunity to usher Clara into society early and assures Clara's father that Clara will be the lucky lady that the suitor selects.

The following weeks and months are filled with lessons, frippery and Victorian silliness for Clara. Once the debut season begins Clara embarks on a battle for the hand of a man she doesn't even know, and her main competition is her best friend Lizzy. Lizzy and Clara promise to be true to one another throughout the season, but when the heir and his younger brother turn out to be different than they expected, their friendship and promises to test their friendship and their families.

Thrown in with all of this drama is the drama within Clara's family. As Clara becomes the socialite of the season, it becomes obvious that there is more to her family than she ever realized. And she learns that somehow her father, a doctor, is connected to the pain and devastation in the immigrant slums of New York City. And it could be that very connection which is keeping Clara in the public eye as the darling of the season.

I don't want to ruin the novel with more explanation, but suffice it to say, the novel is quite interesting and kept me up late one night just to finish the story. I will also say, that although it is very interesting and ends quite well, there were some frustrating loose ends that really needed to be wrapped up in order to maintain the integrity of Clara, the main character.

Even with that criticism, I would rate it a four out of five. It was a great story and I found it easy to loose myself within the beauty and tragedy of the Gilded Age.

Note for Full Disclosure: While I do not receive any monetary compensation for my book reviews, I am provided with free complimentary copies of each book. That being said, this review is completely my own, and free from the influence of Bethany House Book Publishers.

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