Roses & Thorns

Roses & Thorns

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport


She has a secret to keep. But will she give her heart away?
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 squeeze herself into the mold of the well-dressed wife who spends most of her time and money redecorating. 

When she meets Will, 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?

Get swept away into the lavish world of Chicago's high society as Olivia Newport brings to life an age of glitz and grandeur, stark social contrasts, and one woman who dares to cross class lines for what she believes.

Donna's Review:

Goodness, but I seem to be in the habit of reading books that I have a hard time rating. The  Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport was another such book. I liked most of it, but there were parts I did not. Hmmmm........

The story takes place among Chicago’s elite families at the time of the World’s Fair of 1893, which is an interesting premise. Lucy Banning is a likeable character despite her family’s wealth. The author does a good job showing the disparity between the rich and the poor without being preachy. Lucy’s struggle to find her own way, even as her parents have chosen another for her, is engaging.  Her efforts to help the new servant Charlotte Farrow with a particularly difficult situation are well done by Newport. Those struggles were some of the best of the book in my opinion, and there are times I could not put the book down.

Now, this is not a book that dwells much on the male point of view. I always find such books lacking, but I understand there are authors who prefer to write that way and readers who do not care. However, as is usually the case in such books, Will Edwards seems too good to be true, and the relationship between he and Lucy comes too easy. They just, quite simply, like each other, and the only thing keeping them apart are external forces. Internal forces of any kind do not exist in the relationship in any great way. He does at one point state he thinks she has too much money and he cannot pull her from the life she is use to, but no great struggle is presented in that regard in any meaningful way.

I also found the character of Daniel Jules thinly drawn. He seems to be a cardboard villain with no redeeming qualities and there is no explanation given for his actions at any point other than the fact he is just plain mean and perhaps psychotic. Granted, it can be difficult to give depth to villains, however, his resolution (which I will not state because I don’t want to spoil the story) seems overly simplistic to me, and Lucy’s reaction to it is also too good to be true.  (I can’t say more without giving the story away.)

I also had issues with Charlotte Farrow and her placing her infant son in a carpetbag at the beginning of the story. There is simply no way the child would have kept quiet, nor would a woman believe she could even do that to begin with for any length of time. Babies that young have to be feed every few hours, so having the child eat all night and stay awake in order to sleep all day while Charlotte worked is not realistic. Not to mention the danger of suffocation in a carpetbag while being unsupervised for hours on end.

While Newport’s sentence structure and style were simple yet readable, she oftentimes slips into “telling” rather than “showing,” and her settings were weak. I very much wanted to feel as if I was in Chicago in the 1890s, but I did not.

Overall, though, this was still an enjoyable read. The plot clips along. The characters of Lucy Banning and Charlotte Farrow truly carry this story. If you are looking for clean women’s fiction, then this is a book you will enjoy. If you are looking for gut-wrenching romance, this is not it.

I will add that it appears this is Newport’s first book, and there is enough good going on that I will not hesitate to read the next in this series, as well as some of her latest works. I have stated before how quickly authors can grow from the first to subsequent books.

3 1/2 Roses for this one!

Length:  304 Pages
Print:  $12.00
Digital:  $5.99

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