Monday, June 25, 2012

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport

I recently had the pleasure of reading The Pursuit of Lucy Banning as part of an online Christian Fiction Reading Group to which I belong.  I encourage you to check them out, they are a dynamic group of women and I have loved the selections they have read and will be reading.  You can find them on Facebook HERE.

About the Author:
I’m imagining you. You walk past as I water my front flowerbeds and we wave. You check the time as we both stand in a long line at the grocery store. You sit in front of me in church. I’m at my table in the coffee shop and you’re at yours.

We may smile politely and move on with our separate lives. Or one of us may speak, a simple invitation to conversation, and the words flow between us.

Here the adventure begins. When we meet someone new, we never know where it might lead.

I’ve been married for over thirty years and have two twenty-something kids. We live in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where the day lilies in my back yard grow as tall as I am. (No short jokes, please.)

Not every piece of my life is pretty, though. Some days I want to throw out whole chunks. But I am living each day looking for the grace of God to me, in me, and through me. Having your companionship along the way will help uncover a lot of great stories. 

About the Book:

Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work--and the classes she is secretly taking at the newly opened University of Chicago. When she meets an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?

Readers will love being swept away into a world of mansions, secrets, and romance as they follow Lucy through the streets of the Windy City during one of the most exciting times in the city's history. From opulent upper-class homes to the well-worn rooms of an orphanage, Olivia Newport breathes life and romance into the pages of history--and everyone is invited.

My Thoughts:

I realized one thing right off the bat, I love the time period right before the turn of the century, when our country was well out of the War Between the States, not yet into that era including the Great Depression and things were generally well.  This novel is set in Chicago in the 1890s and boy did that time period really add to the overall feeling of the novel.

I learned so much about the city at one of its most up-and-coming times, and the people who populated it.  I could envision the large houses on Prairie Avenue and their wealthy inhabitants. 

Another aspect of this novel that really stuck out to me was the main character, Lucy Banning.  She really is a strong-willed character and I was struck by her determination and perseverance despite the time period she lived in.  Olivia Newport did a fantastic job creating this character and crafting pivotal situations where she would shine as a woman in the later 1800s.

I also appreciated Newport's nod in this novel to mental illness and the complexities involved with it through Daniel's character.  I imagine that during this time period it was hard for people, especially those in the wealthy class to acknowledge and deal with someone who needed that measure of help and the author did this topic justice in this novel.

This is the first I have read by Ms. Newport but being a lover of historical fiction and interested in Christian fiction I will be adding her to my author's to read list and looking forward to more by her!

Book Rating: 4/5

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