Title: She walks in Beauty
Author: Siri Mitchell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Set in: New York, U.S
Rating: 4 out of 5
“It is worth remembering that when, as a society, we deem something absolutely necessary to beauty or happiness, some people will do absolutely anything to obtain it.”-Note at the end of book by the author.
This sentence more or less sums up what this book is about. Like me, don’t get fooled with the cover and think it’s a historical bodice ripper. It’s far from that. It’s about Clara Carter and Lizzie, both 17 years old, entering their first season in New York. If you’ve read enough bodice rippers or historical YA, you’ll know what a season is. But you won’t find any handsome rake here. What you will get though are the De Vries brothers, Franklin and Harry. Franklin is the elder brother and hence the heir. So Clara, Lizzie and mostly all the girls debuted that season have their eyes set upon him.
Clara though is a little different from most of these girls. Her mother died when she was very young, her father is a famous physician who wants to restore his wealth, position and take revenge from the De Vries because they lost all their money in the panic as it was deposited in the De Vris bank. Clara wants to marry for love and although she doesn’t want to adorn herself with heavy dresses and heavy ornaments and doesn’t want to wear a tight corset to reduce her waist to 16 inches, she doesn’t have any choice. She doesn’t rebel because she loves her father and she wants to make him happy.
Along the way though, she discovers the value of friendship, that God will accept you as you are and all this glitter and glam is nothing more than a show. In the process of capturing Franklin’s heart and getting a proposal out of him she also discovers that marriage has to based on love.
The author Siri Mitchell has highlighted the extent to which women in the Victorian age went to achieve that perfect 16 inch waist and to get a lifetime of wealth and privilege. Even though this book is set in the Victorian times we still have the same problems in our society today to some extent. That’s probably why we have models who are all skin and bones and have shows like Bridalplasty.
Although I love romances, I loved how it’s not the main focus of this novel. It’s more of a coming of age story, of breaking the bonds that society has set for us and of differentiating between the right and wrong. I loved how the novel preaches without actually preaching. I thought the book a was bit slow at first because I was expecting a romance novel but sometime after 100 pages I looked at one of the blurbs on the front cover and realized that this was Christian fiction. Any complaints I have for this book are because I was expecting something else, so I wouldn’t really mention them here.
All in all a very satisfying read. Siri Mitchell is a very talented writer and I look forward to reading more books by her.