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Book Review: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

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When the bookish Clara Carter finds herself thrust into debuting a year before she is prepared to in late nineteenth century New York, she finds herself immersed in a foreign world of manipulation and intrigue. Directed by her family to secure a suitor she finds unappealing, Clara finds herself making concessions on every front in the name of familial duty.

I don’t read much Christian romantic historical fiction, but Siri Mitchell has made it onto my list of contemporary authors not to miss. Her vivid writing is filled with strong characterizations and emotions that ring true. Integrated (but not preachy) spiritual lessons are paired with unforgettable historical settings; Mitchell’s books are simply a pleasure to read.

She Walks in Beauty doesn’t include a clear-cut conversion scene, which seems to be common in her novels, but it does include a subtle teaching experience at the hands of God -– one that many women will find resonates deeply within them. Trapped within a society that values external appearances over truth and content, Clara finds it difficult to believe that God can love her just as she is. This revelation is both incredibly poignant and empowering; this revelation is a perfect match to the historical setting.

Readers also see Clara as she grows through difficult revelations and experiences on the way to womanhood. Learning to face unpleasant consequences which aren’t of her own making, and choosing to make the right choices in the face of social disparity (an issue that most novels regarding the lives of socialites fail to address.)

The romantic story is also incredibly well written, sweet, innocent, believable, and thoroughly enjoyable. This quality of romantic writing is a rare find -– the kind that makes your stomach clench and swirl while still being entirely appropriate. It’s truly enchanting; a very good thing.

In short, if you enjoy any form of Christian historical fiction -– even if you aren’t a full time devotee of the genre -– you can’t go wrong with Mitchell’s latest.

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