Thursday, May 27, 2010

She Walks in Beauty

I was thrilled to receive a copy of SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY by Siri Mitchell, from Bethany House, one of my favorite publishing companies. Plagued by a cough, I relaxed on the sofa with the novel and planned to read an hour before bed. Around midnight, I closed the book, finished, and wished for more. The characters are not only believable, and the dialogue realistic, but they worm their way into your heart. The main character, Clara, is forced into her New York City debut (in the year 1891) by her widowed aunt. It is an early debut because an heir has returned to the city seeking a wife, and both Clara’s aunt and father have their eyes set on him. Clara loves nothing more than reading and learning, but her aunt forces her to succumb to society. This includes a restraining corset, fan flirting, and “cutting” those who get in her way, including her best friend. Clara discovers that she dislikes the heir, but finds close friendship in his younger brother Harry – a match her family strongly disapproves of, and thereby forbids. When Clara’s father suddenly dies, she is rendered penniless and the heir proposes to her best friend. Clara decides to become a helper to an elderly woman touring Europe, and when she tells Harry, he asks her to elope with him. The story is flavored with intrigue and secrets, delving into the tenement and Tammany Hall situations that had plagued the New York City of that time. Clara also discovers that her father, a doctor, has been poisoning his patients with a fake tonic and that he was responsible for the early death of her mother. It was a book well worth reading.

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