Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin

20year old Violet Hayes has just come home from finishing school to find out that her father is set to remarry and the mother she had been told was ill and in a sanatorium is actually alive and well in Chicago, and has just formally divorced her father. Under the pretense of seeing the Chicago World's Fair, Violet talks her father into letting her spend a month in Chicago so she can look for her mother. While there she will stay with her grandmother, who knows the secret about Violet's mother and refuses to tell her and has secrets of her own, her Aunt Matilda, or Aunt Matt, who is involved in the suffragist movement, her Aunt Agnes, who puts all of the lessons Violet learned in finishing school to use courting her around the city to visit all of her well-to-do friends and hoping to find Violet a husband and her Aunt Birdie, who's husband died in the Civil War but she thinks he is still alive and fighting it. Violet's search for her mother and the truth is sidetracked when she begins being courted by different men, from different walks of life, for different reasons. There is Herman Beckett, who is from her hometown, bores Violet silly, and has no imagination whatsoever; Nelson Kent, heir to a banking empire who Violet likes but doesn't get the love story feelings she has always read about that she longs for; Louis Decker, an evangelist who works Violet's grandmother in helping the poor and immigrant families in the slums of Chicago and believes everything is God's will and part of God's plan; and Silas McClure, a stranger Violet meets on her train ride to Chicago who is everything she has dreamed of, but is he a thief? Through all of this Violet works diligently to answer burring questions about her family, find her mother, see the Chicago World's Fair in all its magnificent glory, and hopefully, fall in love.

I loved this book. Violet is a very likable character, her aunts are too funny, Aunt Birdie had me laughing out loud at some points, and the story is very engaging and keeps you reading. I slowed down my pace during the last 3/4 of the book because I didn't want it to end. I found out after I had read this that it is Christian fiction, which I never, ever read, but I loved this. It wasn't preachy, didn't shove God down your throat, and was incredibly enjoyable. This is the first book in a long time where I was rooting for some characters, and wincing at others. One of the best I have read in quite awhile.

5 stars

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