The standard of beauty is not definite, we define it. But what happens when beauty is defined by a society that has been poisoned and brainwashed? That’s precisely what happens in ‘The Everlasting Rose (The Belles 2)’ by Dhonielle Clayton.
Clayton has created a society that is so obsessed with beauty and is willing to go to crazy lengths in order to achieve it. We see a Princess that is willing to kill her own sister in order to feed her obsession with beauty and the power that comes with it. But what’s scarier is that we also see a society that indulges her tyranny.
The Everlasting Rose (The Belles 2) picks up three days after the original, The Belles, has finished and Camellia, Amber, and Rémy escape the palace and are now in the Spice Isles with Edel. They are desperately searching for Princess Charlotte, so that she can overthrow her sister Sophia, as queen of Orleans. Camellia is faced with what looks like a losing battle because she is a fugitive who must find the one person that can help get things back to normal, and she quickly learns that she no longer knows what normal is anymore.
As much as I like Camille as a character, I think that too much of the story was her own personal thoughts about her sisters and the lies she was told throughout her life. I would have liked it if a few chapters were dedicated to other characters, I think that would have given the story more depth and balance.
The real question that is at the real base of the story is, ‘what is beauty and more importantly who defines it?’
The Belles were created by the Goddess of Beauty in order to make the society beautiful. Their only purpose was to help others achieve their own beauty. What troubled me throughout this book and the last, is probably what prompted Clayton to write this story: Why was everyone always looking outside instead of within for beauty? And why was it so important?
I feel as we grow we discover our beauty and what truly makes us beautiful beyond the ideals of what society has fed us. As we learn more about ourselves we’re able to embrace the aspects of what makes us beautiful.
I look at myself for example and how I used to define beauty. In my 20s my definition of what beauty consisted of straight hair, small waist, and big eyelashes. That’s how I defined my beauty and I spent thousands of dollars to fit into the box that I created. I bought the best weaves, went to the hairdresser every two weeks and maintaining those ideals were somewhat of a part-time job in itself.
Later in my 30s as I learned more about myself I defined what beauty meant to me and why. While I still grapple with my definition I know for sure that beauty is not giving my power to others in order to make myself beautiful. By going to the hairdresser, buying the hair, going to get lashes done, nails and all that stuff, I didn’t take the driver’s seat for my own beauty.
While reading this book I felt all these same feelings rush back to me. People giving all their power away to the Belles in order to make them beautiful.
While I really enjoyed the story and the world that Clayton created I also felt that everything was a little predictable and the book didn’t take any real risks which I would have really liked. Spoiler Alert: I love the fact that Remy and Camellia finally admit their feelings for each other but I also feel a bit cheated out of that relationship. I wish that we could have seen more about what happens to them as a couple.
There’s no doubt that Clayton is a beautiful writer, but the descriptions were often too embellished and a tad bit repetitive at times. I found myself skipping a few paragraphs to get through some of the fluff. Other than that I really enjoyed her storytelling. I do wish that she spent more time with the Iron Ladies and their story and way of living. I feel like they were the feminist movement I would have been a part of if I lived in Orleans.
I would recommend this book and I give it a solid 3.8 stars.
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