The brilliant Siri Mitchell is back with another wonderful story of fashion, romance and social constraints in She Walks in Beauty. If you enjoy your historical fiction with exceptional characterisation and plenty to ponder, Siri's books are for you!
Brief physical description
Embarrassingly tall (for the 19th century) and slightly clumsy, Clara has an unfashionable boyish figure. She has dark hair and pale, consumptive-looking skin with lips that are both too large and too wide.
For my historicals I’ve been making character collages. I tack them up on a bulletin board beside my computer so that I can see them as I write. A brief rundown on the characters in this collage. Clara is the main character. Her father and her aunt have tasked her with winning the hand of Franklin. Her best friend Lizzie—a sunny, cheerful soul—has also been given that goal. Though Clara tries to be a dutiful daughter, her heart is captured by Franklin’s younger brother Harry. Katherine, a baroness with melancholy eyes, is Franklin and Harry’s older sister who becomes a good friend to Clara through the course of the novel. Mr. Douglas is the ambitious journalist hired to catapult Clara to fame through the pages of his newspaper gossip column.
Strengths and weaknesses
Clara has an abundance of intelligence and good sense, although in her particular era, those were considered weaknesses and, in fact, turn out to be her fatal flaws (in her father’s and aunt’s opinions). She is also extremely loyal which has its drawbacks once she realizes she’s competing with her best friend for the hand of the season’s most eligible bachelor.
Quirk (if any)
She loves green apples and the poetry of Byron, preferring to consume them together.
Your inspiration for the character
Like my two previous historicals, I wanted to include a fashion element in this book. Corsets were an obvious choice. But I wanted to portray not just the wearing of corsets, but the before-and-after story. The loss of freedom and self that would come from surrendering the substance and spirit of your person to a rigid ideal. To do that, I needed a rather reluctant ingénue. And so, Clara was born.
Background to the storyAs the story opens, Clara is feeling a bit beleaguered. She’s trying to be good and do what’s expected, but none of it really makes much sense. When she tries to be herself, she gets applauded, but for the wrong reasons. She’s vaulted to celebrity by misinterpretation of her own mistakes and self-consciousness. But that’s good right? She’s just starting to discover that marriage means the beginning of the end and she’s not at all sure that she wants to marry the man her father and aunt have picked out. But if not him, then whom? Surely if she just does what’s expected, everything will turn out right in the end. Won’t it? That’s what everyone keeps insisting…
And just for you, here's a snippet from Siri about her next novel:~
A Heart Most Worthy is another historical set in 1918 Boston among a group of Italian immigrants.
Thanks Siri for a really personal look at Clara and especially sharing your character collage ~ loved it!S
On Monday the spotlight shines on Lena Dooley's Madeleine Mercer from Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico.
I'm trying something new here with my giveaways with this form. Let's see how it goes! Please note, the US copy will be a signed copy from Siri :)
Relz Reviewz Extras
Exclusive RBC Book Club Interview with Siri