Hooray! this is my first ever book I got from the Librarything Early Reviewers! I’ve actually been wanting to win a book from them for a while now. When I checked into She Walks in Beauty, I had no idea this was a Christian fiction novel. Nevertheless, I just went along and read it anyway, as the plot did interest me and I felt like reading something historical but not involving Tudor England (been having too much Tudor candy lately).
She Walks in Beauty is about Clara Carter, a young girl who’s about to debut during “The Season”. Her goal is to attract the attention of the famous De Vries heir – something her Aunt has ordered her to do and has reminded her quite often. Clara is suddenly mentioned on society papers and she feels the spotlight on her every move at every social function available. Although this helps in achieving her goals, she doesn’t feel like herself, and feels like a puppet being played with no one listening to what she really wants. Clara then learns that she has to marry Mr De Vries as her family depends on this marriage, and failure can result in dire circumstances for them.
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).
I give it a 9.5 out of 10.