The Pursuit of Lucy Banning
by Olivia Newport (Goodreads Author)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 Review: 3/10
If your only criteria for historical fiction is that it's light, clean and set at least a hundred years ago, then you'll probably enjoy this.
I didn't hate it, but I didn't really enjoy it either. For some reason it seems that authors of these types of books think that the only woman worth writing about is one that "breaks the mold" and is super progressive for her time, which is really ironic, I think, since they're usually branded Christian as well. Apparently, for it to be considered Christian, it needs to be fairly chaste and mention God, prayer and church at least once. Oy.
Putting those two major issues aside, I didn't really like the main characters. I felt like the author thought that making Lucy crave more for her life was depth enough and didn't bother to develop her character.
I did glean that she didn't see much of a problem with taking the easy way by lying to get what she wanted and cheating on her fiance (because seriously entertaining growing a relationship with another man while you are engaged is cheating. Tell me if your fiance did this to you, you wouldn't feel betrayed). Who cares if she aided a maid in need and volunteers at an orphanage? You could argue that the latter was only a cover anyway. This is not someone I would admire, respect or want to be friends with.
Moving on from Lucy, we have Charlotte the maid, who was interesting in her role as a supporting character, but that's about all I have to say about her. We also have Daniel, the fiance, who is supposed to be a love turned psycho. The author goes back and forth between making Daniel and Lucy's history one of an arranged marriage versus one of first love. She couldn't make up her mind, so I couldn't either. It was confusing and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to hate him or feel pity for him. Not that you can't feel both, but it really seemed like the reader was supposed to choose.
Then there's Will. I immediately had a problem with him from the line about knowing she wouldn't marry her fiance because of how she was looking at him. Cocky. Arrogant. Slimy. UGH. We know that he likes art and doesn't have a problem with women pursuing education (but he didn't grow up with a priviliged, entitled life, so why would he think he's better than Lucy?) and that he likes orphans. We actually don't see much of their relationship unfold or blossom; he is primarily set up as the anti-Daniel, which means he must be all that is good, just and benevolent.
The only character I really liked was Aunt Violet. I don't like the idea of her lying to aid to Lucy- if my siblings tried to pull this with one of my kids, there would be Hell to pay- but she had spunk and strength.
The historical aspect was okay. There was a little too much listing clothing and food- not worked in interestingly, just listed.