She Walks in Beauty
The Gilded Age in New York City, 1891, is for the wealthy and debutantes; a magical place filled with glitz and glimmer, and of course: marriage proposals. But for teenage Clara Carter and her friend Lizzie Barnes, the season is a time of nerves, stress, and oppression. Clara’s father and aunt are determined that she marry. And marry no one but Franklin De Vries, heir to the De Vries fortune. Added to the terror of their first season, and the realization that Lizzie’s family also expects Lizzie to marry Frankin, is the pressure Clara feels from her family, especially when they hire a news reporter to cover her every move and to make sure she gets noticed in the society papers.
Unfortunately for Clara, she discovers Franklin is a pompous, nasty fellow. And her heart begins to beat fast every time she meets his goofy younger brother, Harold, instead. Clara must learn to navigate the gossip, the pressure, and the expectations of society as she struggles to follow her heart, as well as her familial duties.
Mitchell has crafted a delightful novel that sparkles like the ballrooms in her story. Clara epitomizes the struggles young debutantes of the age suffered, from the tight corsets to the oppressive expectations of society, and her trials and tribulations are expertly written. However, the sudden bits and pieces dealing with poverty and Clara’s attempts to understand class differences seem out of place and are not dealt with fully. I was a bit disappointed that Mitchell never entirely tackled these aspects or gave Clara the chance to fully change and grow. Overall though, this is a lovely romantic read.