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5.0 out of 5 stars Mrs Q: Book Addict~ Visit my blog for newest reviews.,
This review is from: She Walks in Beauty (Paperback)Publisher: Bethany House
Category: Christian Fiction
She Walks in Beauty is a compelling story about a young women living in a socially-driven world. Although she loves books and dreams of going to Vasser College, her distant father, and rigorous aunt will having nothing to do with it. Clara must do as she is told. Clara's mother passed away years ago, and now Clara is at the mercy of her aunt. She is dreading her social debut but it's about to come a year sooner and it is mere weeks away when news that the towns wealthiest heir is to marry this year. Clare's governess and best friend is fired when it appears that Clare is too far behind in her social education. Clare is soon tight-laced into a corset, and thrown into the social circle. When the town newspaper notices Clare, her aunt seems encouraged to push her further. Clare becomes the belle of the season, and Franklin begins to take notice. Clare is delighted but Franklin seems like a bore, his younger jocular brother on the other hand has Clare's attention. Her best friend Lizzie has also been told that she must snag Franklin. Lizzie and Clare vow to keep their friendship intact despite the scheme's of their family.
Siri Mitchell exposes the upper-class society that was consumed with wealth and status. Happiness and love were never to take precedence. I really enjoyed this book, I didn't want to put it down and was intrigued from the very beginning. Although, it sounds like an unchallenging read it was truly fascinating to read about the social hierarchies of the 1890s. Clare's aunt seems despicable to being with, but as the novel progresses she voices her reasons. I really began to understand where she was coming from. Clare's father on the other hand, has many indiscretions and secrets that are disclosed. Clare is an endearing heroine, one that you will immediately want to protect. Readers can sense her fear, confusion and shock when she is able to rise to the occasion. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders, and an aunt and father who have high expectations. While Clare is consumed with the social world, her mind is still reeling about the impoverish people and injustices she's read about. While many deem the book preposterous, Clara can't help but wonder if it's true. Clara matures from a young girl who questions nothing to a strong woman who questions everything. The christian element is very light, and not preachy. While this book is categorized as Christian it is much more historical. A great read!
4.0 out of 5 stars Experience your own debutante season,
This review is from: She Walks in Beauty (Paperback)At seventeen Clara Carter is looking forward to her last year of freedom. But when the wealthy and eligible heir to the de Vries fortune returns from Europe, Aunt and Father decide to push up her debut to this season. Things get complicated when Clara's best friend and fellow debutante Lizzie Barnes gets instructions to snag the same man. As the story plays out we see Clara change from an innocent and naïve newcomer to a jaded socialite who sees through the ballroom games of New York's 1890s social scene.
The book is rich in its detail about the moneyed class's clothes, house furnishings, operas, parties, and foods - down to the oysters in ice served at Delmonicos.
Though in some ways it seems a frothy society tale, the book is set against a background of serious issues. Through the book 'How The Other Half Lives' by Jacob Riis, Clara becomes aware of a whole class of people - immigrants, tenement dwellers, tramps, prostitutes, drug addicts - that exist in dismal conditions. Father and Aunt deflect all her questions about the Mulberry Street section of town, however, and it is only when she begins to uncover family secrets that she fully appreciates the charade she finds herself in. The role and place of women in society is another of the story's themes, along with an exploration of marriage. The spiritual message of God accepting us as we are is subtle yet captures our attention in its contrast to society's obsession with molding women into something they are not.
She Walks in Beauty is sure to interest fans of Americana and the Victorian era. For any who have ever wished they could experience what it was like to be a debutante, the book is a great substitute. One can live the whole business vicariously without ever having to twirl a fan, dance a schottische, or exist 24/7 cinched into a corset.
(I received the book as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.)
5.0 out of 5 stars Step into the New York social scene,
This review is from: She Walks in Beauty (Paperback)Clara Carter wants nothing more than to continue her studies - learning more
science, literature and mathematics - but her father and aunt have different ideas. The De Vries heir has returned early from his trip abroad, and Clara's aunt is insistent that Clara win his hand during this social season in New York. It is time for the debut that Clara has been dreading her whole life. Believing that her family's honor is a stake, Clara puts everything that she has into being the star of the season, but at what cost? And when secrets from the past surface, will Clara still be able to hold her head high?
I really enjoyed the way that Siri Mitchell brought me into the 1890's social scene in this book. The artifice of the characters and the game that everyone was playing would have driven me crazy, if I had lived in that time. I guess I wasn't cut out for the high social setting, much like Clara. I found myself really identifying with this girl who knew that she didn't belong, but felt that she had to play the part to make her family happy. She Walks in Beauty is a wonderful addition to my historical fiction library.
(I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review.)
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic HIstorical Fiction!,
This review is from: She Walks in Beauty (Paperback)This book is a beautifully written book that encorporates exquisite historical accuracy. Both storylines and characters are well developed and Mitchell's style of writing kept my interest throughout the book. I was very sad when this book ended and I look forward to reading more books by Siri Mitchell (this was the first of her's that I had read). I highly recommend this book and give it a huge thumbs up!
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Read from Siri,
This review is from: She Walks in Beauty (Paperback)When the bookish Clara Carter finds herself thrust into debuting a year before she is prepared to in late nineteenth century New York, she finds herself immersed in a foreign world of manipulation and intrigue. Directed by her family to secure a suitor she finds unappealing, Clara finds herself making concessions on every front in the name of familial duty.
I don't read much Christian romantic historical fiction, but Siri Mitchell has made it onto my list of contemporary authors not to miss. Her vivid writing is filled with strong characterizations and emotions that ring true. Integrated (but not preachy) spiritual lessons are paired with unforgettable historical settings; Mitchell's books are simply a pleasure to read.
She Walks in Beauty doesn't include a clear-cut conversion scene, which seems to be common in her novels, but it does include a subtle teaching experience at the hands of God -' one that many women will find resonates deeply within them. Trapped within a society that values external appearances over truth and content, Clara finds it difficult to believe that God can love her just as she is. This revelation is both incredibly poignant and empowering; this revelation is a perfect match to the historical setting.
Readers also see Clara as she grows through difficult revelations and experiences on the way to womanhood. Learning to face unpleasant consequences which aren't of her own making, and choosing to make the right choices in the face of social disparity (an issue that most novels regarding the lives of socialites fail to address.)
The romantic story is also incredibly well written, sweet, innocent, believable, and thoroughly enjoyable. This quality of romantic writing is a rare find -' the kind that makes your stomach clench and swirl while still being entirely appropriate. It's truly enchanting; a very good thing.
In short, if you enjoy any form of Christian historical fiction -' even if you aren't a full time devotee of the genre -' you can't go wrong with Mitchell's latest.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, beautiful read.,
This review is from: She Walks in Beauty (Paperback)All I have to say is, wow. This book was really good! from the start I was interested in Clara, and had taken an instant liking to her. The plot was a nice easy pace that flowed smoothly and descriptions and detailed scenes as to what Clara had to go through to act properly during her debut were well done and very engaging to read. Her social outings were well written and every time one ended, I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen at the next party or dinner she attended. Her social "training" was comical to read at times and some of her social blunders made you want to cringe for her (like when she lost her shoe).
Yet aside from those light moments, there were serious moments as well. I didn't like her Aunt who treated her like a chess piece, and although Clara's father wasn't really a main character, when I learnt more of his true colors, he wasn't a very likable person at all. It was very interesting to read about the various rules women and men had to go by in order to go about in society. Some rules I found absolutely ridiculous, yet some had very awful consequences (tightlacing corsets for example).
I really did like how Clara developed as a character. From a very naive girl to one who just wanted to be who she wanted to be, and to do what she wanted to do. She wasn't afraid of the social consequences and at times was brave enough to do something that went against the conventional rules. I also loved her friendship with Lizzie. Although they were "rivals" in their debuts, it was sad to see how they were pawns to their relatives and were even sometimes asked to turn against each other in order to have the greater advantage in attracting Mr De Vries. However I'm glad their friendship meant much more to them and it was just wonderful to read how the two of them got along so well despite social pressures. I actually wanted to learn more about Clara and her mother, although when Clara finds out what happens to her mother, it was actually quite horrifying to read. (I can't really be specific, it'll give the plot away).
Albeit a novel in Christian fiction, there isn't much about God and theology so it's not preachy. Which makes the novel great for those that aren't into the Christian fiction genre. It certainly seemed to lean towards historical romance much more than Christian literature. The plot does become a little predictable, but that did not bother me, I was too engaged into the plot.
Overall, a wonderful, beautiful read. I greatly enjoyed it and for those that love to read about America in the 1890's please give this a try (actually, for those that like The Luxe series, this is definitely for you - no backstabbing involved here though but just enjoy it nevertheless).
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She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell (Paperback - April 1 2010)
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