Before the time that it was decided Clara's debut was to come a year early, the governess spent time teaching what Clara enjoyed most - math, science and literature. Her scholarly activities intrigued her and she dreamed of attending Vassar college. Her somewhat persnickety Aunt came to the rescue when it was discovered that Clara had learned little of what was required to impress those in society. Lessons in posture, etiquette, dancing and clothing began to consume Clara's days and evenings. Clara was expected to restore the family honor by landing the DeVries heir as her beau. Her friend Lizzie was her encourager and lifeline, but when both girls are required to pursue the same young man, they wonder if their friendship will withstand the pressure.
The memories of her deceased mother were few, but one event stuck in Clara's memory. Her mother had been singing the hymn "Just As I Am" as she went through the rigmarole of preparing for an evening at a ball. Her mother hugged her fiercely and said,"Would it not be wonderful if God loved us just as we were, darling girl? Without affectation or pretension?" The young Clara threw her arms around her mother's neck and declared, "I like you just the way you are!" Could Clara find someone who would feel the same about her? Facing her family secrets could be life changing for the young debutant if she could find the courage to do so.
Set in the 1890's in New York City during the Gilded Age, this historical fiction has some well developed characters, my favorite being the Aunt who was unaware of her need for the same unconditional love that Clara was seeking. The book's group discussion guide includes a healthy admonition that even in today's culture you will be expected to behave in ways dictated by society and your social class unless you are willing to make a stand for what you believe in. The references to God and His love were very subtle and sparse but ultimately a reminder that our goal should be to please Him above all else.
Thank you to BethanyHouse for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255