I am not normally attracted to reading romances books. But I love historical fiction and this book did not disappoint. Even the romantic storyline became appealing as the characters were sensitive, warm and just plain easy to love. I would say this book was a great read for someone looking for a book on the lighter side and yet a book which contained some historical content. And there were some touching moments to really attract the most sensitive reader.
Risking it all including the family farm, a father's confidence in a son's dream sends Cullen McNamara to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. His purpose is to display and sell his invention, an automatic sprinkler which was motivated by his mother's untimely death. But because of all the noise in the fair's Machinery Hall and his failing hearing, it becomes almost impossible to communicate with potential buyers. Unwilling to let his father down, he decides to hire Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.
While the romance was quite charming and humorous at times, what really made this book a great read was the historical details she paints into her story. Photos from the actual event were included at the beginning of most chapters. And her attention to detail really transports the reader back and makes us feel like we are actually at the fair. For those of us who seek to define fact from fiction, at the end of the book is a synopsis of what was historically accurate and what she included as artistic license to make her story flow.
Ms. Gist also includes the controversy that surrounded teaching deaf students lip reading versus sign language. It was quite interesting how she incorporated Cullen's increasing deafness into the story line as a way for us to experience the prejudice and misconceptions that were often encountered by deaf people during the time period. Over all, "It happened at the Fair" is a very entertaining and yet has a lot of content making it well worth reading.
This was such a fun adventure to read about by Deeanne! I am purely amazed at how she describes so wonderfully and realistically! I felt like I was at the fair, but I just couldn't touch anything (which would have been so cool)!
My favorite part of this novel was by far the detail of everything! It would have been amazing to see some of the events and exhibits that Cullen and Della saw! I was really appreciative of Dee including pictures at the beginning of almost every chapter so I could have a real-life picture/drawing of the fair!
The only thing I was bummed about was how fast I felt the ending was! The novel has a slow moving pace which I was content with, but when a certain event happens (which will remain nameless) it quickens a lot faster then I expected! It really caught me by surprised and made me feel that the ending was too rushed for me to really enjoy!
However beside that, I loved this novel! I thoroughly enjoyed Cullen and Della as well as their outings! I learned so much about an important part of the history of America that I would strongly recommend this novel to history lovers! It left me wishing I could travel back in time and thanking God for the wisdom He gives men!
I give It Happened at the Fair a 4.5 out of 5 stars!
I enjoyed this book! I liked the setting of the Chicago's World's Fair. You could picture it so well with the excellent descriptions from this author. I thought the two main characters were well developed and you could see them growing throughout the story. I gave this book 5/5 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this brilliant author, Deeanne Gist. I would also recommend this book to anyone who likes Christian historical fiction with a touch of romance. I could not put this down until I found out how the story ended! I would gladly read this book again.
I would like to thank the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
When I first picked up this book, I wondered why on earth I was reading another "sappy historical romance." I am so glad that the author proved me wrong! I was absolutely enthralled by this book to the point that I did not want to put it down. The story was somewhat predictable at times, but it was different enough that I was intrigued. I fell in love with Della and Cullen, and I wanted to see how the author drew everything together at the end. And she did draw it together extremely well.
I really appreciated several things about this book. First, it was clean in every way. The Christian message was there but not too strong. I think the sovereignty of God was there, and it was clear that both characters could not have made it without their faith in God. Secondly, the historical accuracy of the book was a bonus. The author explains at the end how she took a lot of creative license with the story and historical facts, but the gist of the story about the World's Fair was true. She took no more liberties than most historical fiction writers do. I had not realized what a big deal the Chicago World's Fair was. Nor had I known of the lip-reading movement amongst the deaf--or at least not the extent of it.
If you like clean historical romances, I invite you to check out this wonderfully sweet book for yourself.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
I am, in general, a fan of Deeanne Gist. However, I feel some of her best works are her earlier ones, though, and this novel affirms that feeling.
I really appreciated the historical climate and situation of the 1893 Worlds Fair. The amount of detail poured into the book was done tastefully and I did not feel like it distracted from the story. The problem lies more with the fact that there is very little story. Punctuated by extremely short chapters that rudely segment any sense of flow - the plot cannot fill an entire book - let alone one of this length. We have no significant over-arching conflict that propels the story forward. All we have is tiny snippets of Cullen struggling with being pseudo-engaged, yet attracted to a woman who is not his fiancee. Even in that, though, we have very little understanding of why the financee exists in the first place - or why the relatively loveless "understanding" has not been rectified before this. This takes away significantly from the feeling of tension we should have. His struggle with his invention at the fair is a plausible one - but still done so lightly (and briefly) that it cannot fill the pages it aspires to.
Della is an even more poorly drawn character. There are few scenes that really help us dive into who she is or how she is feeling about Cullen and her struggle with teaching sign-language to the deaf is not explained well enough for us to feel the real conflict.
The entire book just...lacks. And the passion and tension Gist is known for almost entirely gets slammed into the last few pages of the book. It's an awkward transition. But, well, the entire book is a bit awkward. I was happy for a one-time read because of the vivid description of the fair but the pleasure, unfortunately, ended there.