"She Walks in Beauty"
by Siri Mitchell
Source: provided for review by Bethany House Publishers
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Clara Carter has no desire to be a debutante in New York City at the height of the Gilded Age. At 17, she expected to have one more year of freedom before devoting her life to tedious balls, operas, and dinners, not to mention restrictive clothing. But her father and overbearing aunt force her to come out a year early in order to snag the covet-able DeVries heir. But as the season progresses, Clara finds herself questioning just what she "has" to do for her family and how much is her own choice. She questions even more when the younger DeVries son is the brother who catches her attention instead of the heir.
I loved the message of this book- be yourself! Sometimes, beauty has a very high price as does social popularity and power. I was happy to see the overall message of female empowerment in the book.
Sometimes, reading historical fiction, the reader gets the big picture, but some of the everyday details are left out. This book really helped me to see, in shocking detail, all of the aspects of daily life of the not quite so glamorous Gilded Age. A lot of times these details are overlooked and we only see the glitz and glamour. Poor Clara was squeezed into an extremely tight corset, shrinking her waist to 18 (!!) inches. She was even forced to wear gloves that were several sizes too small, all in order to catch a man.
And what a man Harry was! Always making awkward social mistakes, but always saying the right thing to support Clara. Harry would question why she should feel so hemmed in by society and her family, helping her to let go of the restrictions she had placed on herself.
The first part of the book is a lot of day to day descriptions of a debutante's life. The real story with all of it's twists and turns gets started in the second half. I absolutely flew through the last half of the story!
Main Characters: 5/5
Supporting Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5 (I love to read historicals set in America, they seem rare)
Uniqueness: 5/5 (I read a lot of historicals and I learned so many new things)
Cover: 5/5 (absolutely gorgeous, you should see the back cover as well)
Bottom Line: I can't say enough how much I love the message of this book. Even though it's about the Gilded Age, you can see mirrors to our society today. We can still learn from our past and remind ourselves not to pay such a high cost for beauty or to cave to the demands that society puts on us, especially on women.