Siri Mitchell is going to be my favorite for quite a while--at least until I read all her books!
Set in 19th century New York City, She Walks in Beauty is filled with all the glitter, glamour, money, and extravagance that you can imagine from the Gilded Age. It is time for Clara's debut into society and although she has lived a life of sheltered wealth and privilege, she is surprisingly unspoiled and very naive. Her mother is deceased and her father is a doctor and the inventor of a popular 'health' tonic. Clara's aunt has come to stay and orchestrate the debut, but all Clara really wants to do is continue studying with her governess. She is thrust unwillingly into society--learning how to converse about nothing, taking dancing lessons, attending endless parties, luncheons and teas and shopping for an appropriate and attention getting wardrobe for these social events. She is also in direct competition with her best and only friend for the same wealthy, privileged and boring heir.
The theme of the Clara's mother's favorite hymn "Just as I Am" is as integral to this novel as all the descriptions of jewels and parties. For Clara has discovered that not only is it necessary to conform to society's idea of what is proper concerning conversation, food and dress, but she must also conform and be literally conformed to society's idea of beauty. Upon being told of her imminent debut, Clara is immediately fitted for a corset. And is not allowed to remove it until she achieves an 18 inch waist--whittled down vastly from her current 22 inches. Every item of clothing is designed to make Clara appear tiny--from the too small gloves and shoes to the constant constriction of the corset that doesn't allow her to eat, sleep or even breathe very well. Clara is left to wonder why she can't be loved "Just as I am" and searches for One who will see beyond what she is made to appear and be and embrace her real self.
Visit the world of wealth, power and privilege in She Walks in Beauty. Discover for yourself the true meaning of beauty!
Many stories herein are subject to the faulty, and sometimes creative, memory of the blog owner and should not be taken as factual, although the names and events are real! Kind of.