Wednesday, January 4, 2012

She Walks in Beauty SIRI MITCHELL

Siri Mitchell has done it again! She has gained another loyal reader.

She Walks in Beauty has sealed it for me. This is a story revealing the true worth of a soul. The very first book I  reviewed here was Siri Mitchell's newer book, A Heart Most Worthy (2011). I then heard about She Walks in Beauty (2010). I found it at our local library and checked it out to take on our road trip to our daughter's. Now I must hunt up her other earlier books: A Constant Heart (2008) and Love's Pursuit (2009). This is a very in-depth author!

Why I like her style!
Siri's characters are very believable. I felt like I was right alongside them, in each conversation, at every move. My very favorite, Historical Fiction, this story takes place in New York City, 1891, During the opulence, the splendor, and the excess of the Gilded Age. The time period was very well researched of a society bent on keeping money in families and covering lack thereof. Our main character, Clara Carter, is sent out by her physician father and his widowed sister as a debutante at seventeen, a year before she is expected to be presented into society. She must be cinched up, poked and prodded, to fit into a prescribed waist size gown and smaller gloves to present small hands. Her mother dies young, and Clara is accompanied by her governess and maid. Clara has been readied for Vassar College in preference to having a debut. That all changes when her aunt moves in and her governess is discharged. Clara is their only hope to redeem their fortunes lost during the collapse of the banks and recouped during this social season. Clara is put through a fast pace of learning proper dinner tableware usage and last minute dance instruction she has not previously attempted. Amid at-home Tuesdays, banquets and balls, Clara must juggle a childhood friendship of a competing debutante to win the honor her family feels is their due. Through deceit and guile, the pursuit continues. Strategic maneuvering of dance cards determines the outcome of the evenings. I found it interesting to see into the expectations of the young men who were positioned to be the intended spouses by the end of the social season. Was it any wonder many of them stayed at their clubs and inherited business ventures? Were they given the desires of their hearts or just conforming to what was acceptable for them? There are adventures to be discovered as Siri Mitchell weaves a story that ended as I hoped!

She walks in beauty because of the quality of her life steps.
She Walks in Beauty
By Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron) 1814

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!