Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review: The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning (Avenue of Dreams - Book 1) by Olivia Newport

Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Genre: Historical Fiction,Christian
Pages: Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0800720384
ISBN: 0800720385

(Received for an honest review from Revell)

Olivia Newport on the WEB: Webpage, Twitter, Facebook

Books In The Series: The Pursuit of Lucy Banning(2012), The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow(coming 2013)

Excerpt from The Pursuit of Lucy Banning Courtesy Of Amazon's Inside Look Feature


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, the son of family friends, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon what matters to her most—her work at the orphanage and the classes she is secretly taking at the newly opened University of Chicago.

When she meets Will Edwards, an unconventional young architect working on plans for the 1893 World’s Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. A new young maid brings her own secret to the Banning household, and Lucy must choose between deeply held values.

Can Lucy find love and live out of her compassionate heart?


The Pursuit of Lucy Banning is the debut novel from author, Olivia Newport. It is the first book in the Avenue of Dreams series set during the 1890's in Chicago. Newport's knowledge of the times and customs during this time period is remarkable. Her characters are multi-faceted and very well written. Christian fiction readers may have mixed reactions to the book, but historical fiction readers will find it accurate and believable. 

Olivia Newport takes readers back to 1890's Chicago at the dawning of the World's Fair. One of the things that I liked most about this book was the historical references and knowledge of the times and customs. Newport sprinkles the history throughout the book and keeps readers continually interested. Readers who are actually from Chicago will really enjoy the historical detail, from the descriptions of the town itself to the differences in the political climate. The stark class divisions from those living on Prairie Avenue to the orphanages are clearly drawn and very well written. There was very little information about the World's Fair itself, but that was clearly not the focal point of this novel.

I really enjoyed Lucy as a character. Not only is she strong and determined but she has a heart for the people. She comes from an influential, wealthy family, yet she takes time to work with Chicago's orphans and provide advice for a young maid in her household, who has secrets of her own. I thought Lucy was resourceful and mannerly, but she did engage in quite a bit of deceitfulness, which will no doubt cause some Christian readers a few moments of pause. Lucy is supposed to be a virtuous Christian woman, yet she continually keeps things from those around her. Personally, I didn't think there was too much controversy here, but I'm sure there will be those who will find fault. Luckily, there are very few instances of this and it shouldn't be a big issue.

Charlotte is probably one of my favorite characters in the book. As Lucy's maid she is in another class and therefore unable to really associate with Lucy. But Lucy isn't your typical socialite. She understands that Charlotte is in need of her help and it doesn't bother Lucy that Charlotte doesn't have money or clout. Lucy's family in general including the butler were wonderful secondary characters. Aunt Violet in particular was interesting and full of surprises. The plot itself was unpredictable and very entertaining. 

Newport takes a great deal of time to develop the story and introduce the characters, yet the plot of the book itself doesn't suffer from this. It is very well written and readers of both Christian and historical fiction will love this one. There a great deal of wonderful historical information here and I think readers will really be interested in it. Give this one a chance, it's a great book and the beginning of a very promising series.

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Olivia Newport's novels twist through time to discover where faith and passions meet. Her husband and two twenty-something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where day lilies grow as tall as she is.


Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

i thought this book was really sweet! glad you liked it too!

Lexi said...

Nicely written review. Great secondary characters can help make or break a book.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

This book looks really cool; I don't think I've read much historical fiction set in Chicago so I appreciate that this one is filled with lots of detail to really set the stage.

Carol N Wong said...

I have added this one to my wishlist. My father went to the World's Fair held during the Great Depression. I am very interested in the previous one. The characters sound great.