Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review: She Walks In Beauty

She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell. 2010. April 2010. Bethany House. 400 pages.

"Get dressed, Clara. In your visiting costume. We are going out." My aunt's words were at once both commanding and precise--as precise as her posture: a series of ninety degree angles, seated upon one one of my bedroom chairs. She was perpendicular in the extreme.
There were far more important matters to consider than geometry, however. I bit the inside of my lip to hide the smile that threatened to escape. We were going out! And we never went out. We never went anywhere. Not since Aunt moved in with us the month before. Several times I had been given permission to visit with my friend Lizzie Barnes, but only in the company of Miss Miller, my governess.
Set in New York City. In 1891. Clara Carter--like it or not--is about to make her debut in New York Society. She'd hoped for one more year, at least. (Though in an honest moment, she'd admit she would much prefer never to debut at all.) But when Clara's aunt learns that the De Vries brothers have returned early from Europe, all plans changed. Clara must catch herself a De Vries. Catch herself an heir. It is her duty, according to her father, Dr. Carter, to marry well, to marry money.

Clara is having to relearn just about everything. How to sit. How to stand. How to walk. How to make conversation. (There are so many things that she's not allowed to talk about!) How to dress. How to eat. Even how to sleep. You see, her aunt is insisting that Clara's waist be eighteen inches. She must wear her corset twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Laced so tightly, that everything becomes a struggle.

Of course, some things she's just beginning to learn. How to cut someone (socially). How to dance. How to flirt with a fan. How to be noticed.

Clara's aunt insists that love doesn't exist. That love has nothing at all to do with marriage. But Clara doesn't want to believe it. She feels that love is out there, that she could be throwing away her chance for real love, lasting love, for money.

Clara's life of operas, balls, and dinner parties might seem fun. But appearances can be deceiving. Clara learns that lies and secrets seem to be at the center of almost everything. Is it worth it? Is being popular, is being one of the "it girls" worth sacrificing everything?

I really enjoyed this one!

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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