** spoiler alert **
Constance Courtland is a lively and attractive young woman who is finishing up college. On her break she comes home and finds out that her grandmother has given a different condition for Connie to receive the matched pearls she was going to give her for graduation. Now it seems the only way to get the pearls are to join the church! Her grandmother has some sentimental reason for doing it this way. Well, why not just join the church and get it over with? It is simple enough, and the words she had to say in the church service don’t really mean anything. There was no harm done, and she had pleased her grandmother, anyway.
But more trouble comes from Connie’s false vows than she could have imagined. The young man who had joined the church at the same time comes one day bearing a package of flowers for her. He is a handsome but altogether presumptuous man! He acts as if he has known her for a long time. It annoys Connie, but she cannot help but notice his gentlemanly manners and sweetness. Besides, he is extremely handsome, even if he is poor. He invites her to take a walk with him the next morning to see where he had gotten the flowers from the woods. She thinks it is rather crazy to go, and of course she wouldn’t—she wants to sleep in and then she would have to get ready to leave for college. . . . But a little bird outside her window wakes her early the next morning, and she gets up, curious to learn more about the strange young man with the last name of Seagrave.
He is out front waiting, and they go and see the delightful blue flowers. Then, something quite embarrassing for Connie happens. Seagrave asks her how long she has been saved. She fumbles and stammers, not sure what he means. He explains to her, and she says that she isn’t really a Christian and that she had joined the church to please her sweet grandmother. Seagrave looks sad and tells her how wrong that was of her. Connie realizes deep down that he is right, but is still rather self-righteous. She wasn’t such a bad person!
Connie goes back to college and tries to forget about Seagrave, but his searching brown eyes haunt her from time to time. Connie attends a dance with a handsome young man she has never met before. He is too intimate in his gaze and touch for her, but she goes along with it. Then, when they are outside, the man tries to kiss her, and before he can, Seagrave’s eyes appear again to Connie, and she slaps the man away and runs out of the party, professing illness and tiredness. She flees to her room, feeling wretched. She catches a glimpse of her awful self—she had submitted to the man’s advances, had been close to giving in, and she was really just as awful as he was!
As time goes on, Connie learns more and more her own sinfulness and realizes that she had mocked the Lord with her dishonest vows all for a string of matched pearls! Valuable as they were, they were no excuse for her hypocrisy! Was there a way to undo her damage? Could she work and do good to erase her bad deeds?
In the end, after much distress and wrong turns, Connie finds that the only way to be happy is to trust in Jesus . . . He alone could take her sins away.
If there is one Grace Livingston Hill book worth reading, this one is. There are a few things perhaps not perfect or totally Biblical in the book, but for the most part, it is a good, profound story of grace. Connie is a deeper and more realistic character than most of Grace Livingston Hill’s, and I think it will always be one of my favorites of her books.