Thursday, April 8, 2010

She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell - REVIEWED

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


She Walks in Beauty
Bethany House (April 2010)
by


Siri Mitchell






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.



But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.



Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.







ABOUT THE BOOK



For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor.



Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.



Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries.



When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.



If you would like to read the first chapter of She Walks in Beauty, go HERE.


MY REVIEW:

Why do we have to pretend to be people that we aren’t? Why do we have to be thinner than we are, and happier than we feel, and know the uses of dozens of kinds of spoons when usually just one will do?”

(p. 76)


Clara Carter was quite brilliant to ask so many intelligent questions! Although the society she was born to frowned upon women who attempted to learn anything at all beyond the required social graces, Clara was blessed with the fortitude not only to learn, but to continually question everything. The answers that eventually reveal themselves are both shocking and heart-breaking!


From the moment her aunt tightly laced her into her first corset and began to teach her to talk about nothing in particular, Clara felt the falsehoods of proper society deeply. Clara’s father and aunt acted with unnatural determination to ensure that her debut in society coincided with the heir of De Vries’s return from abroad. For you see, the pursuit of a spouse among properly suited society was painfully purposeful and included the act of cutting – literally and completely snubbing someone. Both Clara and her best friend Lizzie are set upon a collision course in an effort to become engaged to the heir of the DeVries fortune. Eventually, one of the two would be cut from the race!


She Walks In Beauty carried my heart and mind into the very depths of the Gilded Age. New York’s upper class in the late 1800’s was as opulent and ostentatious as the imagination was able to reach. Young women were molded and poured into a set of social graces as rigid and unforgiving as the corsets they wore beneath their gowns, and the results were often just as deadly! Clara’s situation was particularly heart-breaking, because her mother had died at a young age, and her father paid her little attention. When the decision was reached that Clara would debut a year early, her aunt fired her governess and truest confidante. The moment Clara lit into her aunt over this rash decision I knew that there was much more to her character than even she realized!


And oh! How I praised God for Harry De Vries! And his sister Katherine! Harry may have been the younger of the two brothers, but he had more character in his pinky finger than old Franklin had in his entire body!!


All in all, every detail of this social setting is carefully designed and cleverly paces so the reader’s anxiety reaches “hysterical” levels as the story nears its end. On page 341 Clara’s thoughts finally become crystal clear and these thoughts come to mind: “Just in case, I whispered a prayer. I prayed that if God truly cared for me, just as I was, that He would make a path for me. Because there would be no undoing what I was about to do.”


Praise God, He answers prayer! The last chapters of this book will leave you breathless! You cannot imagine where God’s hand moves in the lives of these characters! After all of the pompous, self-centered depravity of New York’s society pours its filth upon Clara Carter, she discovers the truth behind these wise words: “I must insist that you matter to Him much more than you seem to realize.” (p. 159)


Reader, this review has waxed too long, but I want to make sure you understand the full scope of Siri Mitchell’s She Walks in Beauty! There are moments that will make you laugh out loud (the visit with the mortician’s wife!), and there are moments that will make you weep. You will shake your head in wonder that two seventeen-year-old girls would be thrust into such extreme social settings. You will also feel like shouting in glorious praise when these same young women blossom into ladies who reflect all that is truly precious in the human heart. She Walks In Beauty is most excellent!! I cannot recommend this novel highly enough!!



4 comments:

Mocha with Linda said...

Oh, I absolutely loved this book!

Nora St. Laurent said...

Hey Kim;

I Like your new look. Looks GREAT!!

Blessings

Nora :D
Finding Hope Through Fiction

Rel said...

Um...so I think you liked this book ;-) LOL!!!

Kelly Klepfer said...

I borrowed this review for NR and CFOM. Thanks. : )