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.
This is an absolute MUST for all girls! This is the first book I read by Siri Mitchell but it most certainly won't be the last! It taught me just so much about what girls were expected to do in the 1890s. What their life "purpose" was and that was to catch the best match possible. What I found extremely interesting though was how they caught that match. They went through like, so much to "be the best!"
The book not only gave me all information I ever wanted to know about what life was like for girls in my great, great grandmother's days but it gave it to me in a way I wanted more. In a fun and interesting way that kept me going.
Now those are just the educational purposes to buy the book. The book in itself was amazing!
I loved the plot and the characters were just so real! It kept me going and it was so hard to tear myself away from the book! In the end, I was sad to finish the book but loved the ending and I realized just how much I have to be grateful for. Besides everything I have, I am never going to have to give up my dreams to marry a man for my family. That is something totally worth being thankful for!
Anyway, as I said I loved the book! I totally recommend it. This is a new favorite of mine and I will be buying a copy for several friends. I am so excited about this because this is a book that I feel safe giving to a friend with the strictest of parents who guard everything their kids read. Not like that is bad or I would ever give them a book I wouldn't read to my mother but at times it is really annoying. I want to share my taste for books yet have never really been able to because romances are basically out of the picture for them. I mean they can read romances but those ones never seem real to me. I have read them and they all seem so dry and the oldest who is fifteen daughter, is starting to really complain about this. She wants to read richer stuff. Not trashy stuff or anything but she has been begging me to find a book that gives the "love butterflies" but is completely safe and is something her mother would feel OK to read to her and she to read back to her mother. This one fits the bill! It is completely safe while giving off the butterflies everyone (especially teen girls!) loves and at the same time, it has some good lessons in there. I just thought I would explain this because this is a book no one should miss out on and I want everyone to feel "safe" to give this to someone else or to read it themselves. It is an amazing book! Love it so much and am so excited to read Siri Mitchell's latest book, "The Messenger!"
P.S. I LOVE the cover! All Siri's covers in fact...take a look at them if you haven't! They alone speak for the book...
She Walks in Beauty examines the societal role of a debutante in the gilded age of 1890, New York City.
Seventeen year old Clara Carter begins her debutante preparation at the insistence of her prickly aunt.
Motherless Clara dreams of going to Vassar College, but feels compelled to follow the prodding of her father and aunt to snag the heir to a fortune in order to rescue her family from ruin.
Clara resents putting aside her studies in Latin, mathematics and Italian for lessons in deportment, dance and singing. Endless instruction in appropriate conversation topics, use of tableware are nothing compared to the torture of wearing her corset to bed to trim her waistline to eighteen inches.
Her friend, Lizzie Barnes, on the other hand, longs for the debut as much as Clara dreads it. Lizzie's utter acceptance of the "coming out" process provides a stark contrast to Clara's reluctance.
Mitchell's depth of historical detail is impressive and she paints a clear picture of 1890's society. Clara's character has many dimensions. "Why do we have to pretend to be people we aren't?" reveals her dilemma. Her social concern for those in the slums of New York is admirable, but these plot threads are thin. Clara's struggle between accepting the superficial requirements of society and doing what she deems honorable is the most compelling story in the book.
The book is full of description: the aunt's three fat, fluffy Pomeranians, dance steps, use of the correct fork, gown design and fabric. Short on character development, She Walks in Beauty does give us a clear picture of the trials and triumphs of young girls entering their debut. A most interesting character is "The Tattler," the author of the society page of the city newspaper.
She Walks in Beauty is a light and an easy read, and seems best suited to young adults. Young people will enjoy the endless discussions of dresses, private balls and buttoned gloves. They will relate to the fear of not fitting in and being snubbed at parties. The School Library Journal approves the book as appropriate for Grades 8 and above.
This book was absolutely amazing! The story of Clara Carter is my story and I was so able to identify with her feelings, as I am sure any 18 old girl who reads it will be. Clara thinks too much about what others think of her. She worries too much about boys and is blind to the one that God really has for her. She does not understand the implications of what God loving her really means for her life. This book taught me to place myself in God's hands, as I do everything. It is one of my favorite historical Christian fiction books, and I read it twice in three days! I absolutely adored it, and I'm positive you will too.