Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review of "It Happened at the Fair"

Rating: 4 Stars
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Review: Deeanne Gist takes readers on a tour of the Chicago World's Fair through the eyes of two exhibitors. The fair and its exhibits was reborn through Gist's descriptions and imagery.  In 1893, the Chicago World's Fair took on a life of its own, and the same is true in the plot of "It Happened at the Fair." The architecture and exhibits are described in such clear detail that it feels as though you are walking the grounds with the characters. Gist also incorporates some of the tragedies and failures of the fair, which adds more historical truth and dimension. Each chapter begins with photos from the fair which are fun to examine. 

The fair overshadowed the storyline of the two main characters, Cullen and Della.  Unlike some of Deeanne Gist's previous novels, the relationship between Cullen and Della begins as a friendship.  I enjoyed this more toned-down approach, but readers who expect more physical attraction will be left waiting until the end.  The most interesting aspects of the main characters' lives was their profession instead of the growth of their personal relationship.  It offered insights into the philosophy of teaching deaf students and the prejudices of the time periods. 

I received a complimentary e-copy of this novel from Netgalley, courtesy of Howard Books.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Summary from Howard Books: Gambling everything—including the family farm—Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the fair’s Machinery Hall makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.

The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

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