While not as whimsical as Austin's more recent Wonderland Creek, A Proper Pursuit shares similar humor - a daydreamy, imaginative humor that particularly tickles my fancy. Violet definitely has her head in the clouds, imagining all sorts of more exciting events than reality generally gives her. I love the relaxed feel of the story and its indulgent length (432 pages).
The supporting characters--Violet's aunts and grandmother and suitors--make for a wonderful cast of characters. The four sisters are so different from each other, with such unique perspectives and agendas, and each has something to teach Violet, even if they appear frivolous or ridiculous at first. None of the four are perfect, but they each have something to love about them. The same goes for her four suitors; they are each very different, and they give Violet ample opportunity to figure out what she most wants in a husband, or if she even wants a husband at all. They all form a part of helping her grow up into herself.
While Violet does not go to Chicago in pursuit of a husband, men certainly are pursuing her. After the first third of the book, there were four men seriously interested in her, and at that point I honestly wasn't sure who she'd fall in love with--not a common situation in most romances! (And a refreshing situation I enjoyed). As it is a christian book, one might assume the seminary student, but as a romance, it could point to the wealthy man who is tired of pretending. But in a turn of events, the boring man from home could prove to have surprising depth, or the traveling salesman be a solid, reliable person in spite of appearances. As time goes on it becomes more obvious, but I liked that all four are given an equal chance of being the one.
Violet is refreshingly honest, especially when it comes to serving. She admits that she doesn't like serving in the tenements and slums with her grandmother, not because she has no compassion (and she does, indeed, have great compassion for the poor), but because frankly, the sights and smells of the slums make her sick, and she is not sure she could handle a life devoted to serving there. Her rich aunt's form of serving--helping financially by raising money through charity events--is something that is far more appealing for her and well within her scope of abilities. I really appreciate that the book points out that it's okay to feel that way. Both ends of the spectrum are legitimate areas for serving God, and we need both (and everything in between) to reach out for God's kingdom. Not everyone is a hand in the body of Christ, and not everyone should be.
I loved Wonderland Creek so much that I wasn't sure anything else by the author could compare, but I ended up delighted by this book too. It was fun to tour the Chicago World's Fair through Violet's eyes and meet some famous people of the time, from evangelists to suffragettes to reformists. I found the different forms of Christianity in the novel to be realistically expressed: from just-go-to-church-on-Sundays indifference to strict, loveless obedience; from all-consuming, passionate ministry to simply loving like Jesus. The mystery with her mother made me cry near the end, when more is revealed. Full of both humor and heart, it is a highly satisfying novel with enough whimsy to tickle my fancy but enough depth to tug at my heart.
Well Done!! I enjoyed reading about Violet and the way she found the courage to venture out and find her mother. Her aunts were wonderful and fun. I also enjoyed reading all about the world fair. I had not realized all that it was.
There is one criticism I had and it was that fact that Violet used deception on her father to gain what she wanted. This is a christian book, published by a christian publishing company and as a christian myself I wasn't comfortable with this aspect of the book.
A delightful book. Lot's of humor with history included in a way that makes you feel you are living it. Lynn Austin is one of my favorite authors. Even when she is very serious there is always something to keep you glued to the story. I want to collect as many of her books as I can. Sarah
This book is one of my absolute favorites! The story was just so beautifully written and I loved the connection I felt with Violet! By the time I finished this book, she was more then just a favorite character, she was and is a friend!
I loved how she slowly "bloomed" and how she really was a violet in the end...gosh I love this story! It is just so unbelievably powerful and it is even more so now that I am thinking about all I learned throughout it.
I recommend this book to all! I have bought it for a thirteen years old as well as an eighty year old and both adore it! It is a fantastic book and would be such a shame to miss out on! Lynn Austin is one of my top favorite authors thanks to this priceless story! I highly recommend it...it is worth every penny!