Review: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

Clara Carter loves poetry, and dreams of going to Vassar college to further her education. However her interfering aunt has other ideas. Franklin De Vries, the city's most eligible bachelor is back in town and it is her intention for Clara to marry him. Forced to debut a year early, Clara along with her best friend Lizzie, are primped and preened and squeezed into corsets. Clara's lessons change overnight from maths, science and languages into dancing, social etiquette and small talk, and she dreads the impending season. Her training pays off and Clara is soon the talk of the society-pages, but all that she wants is to be free to make her own choices in life and love, particularly as Franklin isn't exactly Prince Charming. Set in New York's Gilded Age, She Walks in Beauty is as much a coming of age story as a romance, as Clara faces an internal battle between following the rules and forging her own path.

It was the title of this novel that first drew me to it; in my mind anything that quotes Byron must be good! The characterisation was a tad stereotypical; overbearing aunt, absent father, best friend turned love rival etc, but this didn't detract from the story. Told entirely from Clara's point of view, you get a sense of how constricted she was- both in terms of how she had to behave and how tight her corset was- and I only wish that she'd had the guts to say 'no' sooner. The glittering world of opera houses and ballrooms becomes the platform that can make or break a socialite's career, and it is an era that I love reading about, although it is made pretty clear throughout the book that 'all that glitters is not gold.' This setting, along with the novel's overriding themes of social convention and propriety reminded me very much of Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence, with Newland Archer's yearning to be free mirroring Clara's plight.

4/5 stars: the story of a reluctant debutante thrown into high society, determined to make a life for herself outside of social convention.


This book is available for FREE on Amazon kindle, and was read as part of the Clean Out Your e-Reader Challenge 2014.




Comments

  1. I like the cover of this book!

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    Replies
    1. Gorgeous isn't it? I hate to say it but I can't help but be attracted to books that have nice covers :)

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  2. I love the cover and your review! Going to have to check this one out, Wonder if it's still free on amazon :) So glad you enjoyed it!!!

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