Sunday, June 13, 2010

Book Review – She Walks in Beauty, by Siri Mitchell

imageThe golden age of New York, the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, has always captured my imagination.  Balls and gowns and opulence… lots of pretty, sparkly things. :)  I loved this book.  It made me laugh and cry, and if you know me, you know there is no better recommendation.

Clara is a young and somewhat naive debutante, who in fact becomes the debutante of the season, and while she is supposed to be pursuing the heir to a well-known family’s fortune, she is drawn to his younger brother instead.  The story is a mystery as well as a romance – Clara is not completely sure why her family is pressuring her to reclaim their honor by marrying the heir, and she learns some unpleasant things about her father’s life and the death of her mother. 

There is a social commentary going on in the book as well.  It describes the gap between the wealthy of the city and the very, very poor who reside in dirty tenements and live like animals; as well as the status of women as decoration and no more, made to fit into a too-tight corset both literally and figuratively.

I could criticize a few areas… the suicide of one young man comes as a bit of a surprise and the way in which it’s treated seems a bit unrealistic.  It’s mentioned in passing, in one paragraph, and seems mainly to be an attempt by the author to get rid of a minor character that has served his purpose, and for whom she could not think of a better conclusion.  Clara brushes the death off lightly, which seems completely out of keeping with her character.

At other times I felt that the story was a bit contrived to suit the purposes of the author, and some of the characters weren’t as well developed as I had hoped they would be.  However, all in all, it was a fantastic book that I could not put down.  The romance between Clara and Harry was played out very well, and ends very satisfyingly.  There were lots of sighs and tears here as I read the final pages. 

There’s nothing like a good love story, and this one is very good.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me this book to review free of charge.

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