I sometimes wonder what I would have been like if I'd been born over a hundred years ago. Would I have let myself be held captive by societal expectations, or would I have thrown convention to the wind and charted my own course? Olivia Newport has created a fabulous novel in The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, where the main character, Lucy, certainly refuses to let society or circumstances define her future, resulting in a story that I enjoyed every minute of! What I most appreciated about Lucy is that her refusal to be "status quo" is not just for her own selfish gains, but rather for caring for orphans instead of planning her expected marriage, or helping a maid keep a precious secret even though society says she shouldn't even associate with the household staff. The story is set in a wonderful period of time, the year that Chicago was preparing to host the World's Columbian Exposition, and as such is filled with interesting historical details and settings. I greatly enjoyed the unexpected intrigue and family suspense that revealed itself, which was resolved in a satisfactory manner and one that illuminated ever more the special nature of Lucy Banning. The novel is somewhat light on the spiritual side of things, but provides a clean, appropriate, and enjoyable read that celebrates grace and the power of forgiveness.
The Pursuit of Lucy Banning is a strong debut novel, and I award it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I'm looking forward to future additions to the "Avenue of Dreams" series.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoy reading about the time period...pretty much every time I get a book set during this part of American history. Oh, and the Chicago World's Fair is a great setting. Having recently been to Chicago and driven down Michigan Avenue, I found that quite intriguing as well. Of course, throw in an orphanage and people who help them, and you've got me hooked. I love stories were people of means sincerely care for the poor and don't help them out of duty. Lucy was a great character when it came to her compassion. The same went for Will. And I just plain felt sorry for Daniel. If you read the book, you'll see why.
The love part of the story was slow in coming, but it was nice and satisfying when it finally happened. There were a number of other elements in the story that were nice twists and turns to the plot. I was worried for the characters as well. And Charlotte's secret... well, let's just say my heart still hurts for her situation. Maybe she'll find love in another book with a certain servant named Archie? Of course, there is that legal issue and the fact that she is hiding for safety reasons that sort of puts a snafu in that plan. But authors can do amazing things in fiction and I'm looking forward to seeing what Ms. Newport cooks up next.
I like the way the cover shows a beautiful girl in an exquisite dress in the midst of the dark dirty streets of Chicago. It really sums up the story in a lot of ways. Lucy is raised in a very upscale household and her parents hold her to a lot of the standards of their peers. But Lucy puts herself out there in the midst of the other side of life in Chicago, she volunteers at an orphanage, she goes to college, and she befriends a maid in her household.
The story is really about both Lucy and the maid, Charlotte. Lucy has always been helping the rest of the city, but when Charlotte arrives with a secret in tow, Lucy realizes that she needs to also help those right under her own roof. I would have liked to have known just a little more about Charlotte, especially her back story, but I really enjoyed reading about the lifestyle of those other than the upper class.
I loved how Will was a man of actions not just words. He didn't have to tell Lucy what a great guy he was, he showed her. He didn't even tell her he was going to help out with the orphans or all he did for them, she saw him doing it. Once again, I would have loved to have known more about Will and his story leading up to meeting Lucy's brother, but I still enjoyed what I did know about him. It seemed like there was a lot of set-up about the supporting characters, but then we didn't ever really find out their biggest secrets.
A wonderful addition to anyone's inspirational fiction library. I was so drawn in by the diverse characters that I wanted to know even more about their stories.
book sent by publisher in exchange for honest review
Notice that this book is not "in pursuit of Lucy, " but rather "the pursuit of Lucy." So just what is she pursuing?
It's definitely not a husband, home and family. Neither is she interested in all the social functions that a young lady in high society is supposed to pursue.
Lucy is interested in her charity work and her special pursuit. This puts her in danger more than a few times. Her family continues to push for a marriage between Lucy and the son of old family friends. Will Lucy cave in and marry him, giving up her dreams in the process.
In the end her secret is exposed, but a love interest encourages her to continue her pursuit.
"The Pursuit of Lucy Banning" is a historical romance set in 1892 in Chicago. Though the book description mentions the 1893 World's Fair, there is actually very little about that in this book. The author liked lists (like listing the menu for every meal), and this tended to slow the pacing. However, there was some fairly nice historical detail about the city and events worked into the story.
Using only 282 pages to tell even one story well can be tricky, but this novel was essentially three stories (Lucy's story, Charlotte's story, and Daniel's story) in one book. (Love-interest Will was a minor character until page 161 after which he disappeared from the story for nearly 50 pages, which is odd for a romance.)
Several important scenes were missing, like the scene where Lucy tells her mother/parents that she just broke her engagement, the scene where she enjoyed viewing the art with Will (and started falling in love with him), scenes of her with the orphans (as we see little interaction between them), and the scene where we could see her father's reaction to the stolen items being found.
If Daniel was meant to be a controlling personality (or somehow "off") from the start, I needed to see that from the start rather than a caring, permissive fiancee. If her parents made her worry that they'd react really badly to her taking university courses, we need a scene showing that and subsequent scenes need to back that up. As it was, Lucy's worries seemed unfounded.
I also didn't like Lucy in the first half of the book. I grant that Lucy and Daniel weren't a good match in interests, but that doesn't excuse how badly Lucy behaved toward Daniel in scene after scene.
She also had no problem with lying to her parents about how she spent her time ("I'm being so righteous helping those poor orphans and spending your money to make their life better!") when she's really spending most of that time taking an art history course. And we have no real reason to believe her parents would actually stop her from taking the courses if she'd just asked. They hadn't denied any of her other requests even when they didn't quite approve of them.
By the end, Lucy was a nice person, but not because she saw the error of her ways. It's like those errors never happened. The author just started writing her as nice. Worse, what she learned from all her lying was that, if a man "truly loved her," he'd "trust" her by not showing any interest in what she's up to when he knows she's hiding activities from him. Hmm. It was her who didn't trust those who loved her.
The two characters that bothered to think about God didn't have positive thoughts. Charlotte didn't have time for God because she believed He didn't have time for her. Lucy was more interested in mentally criticizing the church architecture, the preacher, and her fellow rich Christians than in God. She also felt very self-righteous because she helped orphans. I would have thought this novel was a secular one, but it came from a Christian publisher.
There was no sex. There was no bad language. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this book due to the critical, missing scenes.
I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.