Amanda's Reviews > The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport
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May 28, 12

Read in May, 2012

"The Pursuit of Lucy Banning" by Olivia Newport is more than just a lovely cover - it is a delightfully pleasant read as well. The 1892 Chicago setting is brought back to life through the eyes of wealthy, young Lucy Banning. Prior to picking up this novel, I had not heard of the prominent 'Prairie Avenue' nor how its influential families largely orchestrated the World's Colombian Exposition. Isn't it lovely when a novel proves to be both entertaining and educational? While the story of the Banning family is purely fictional, the inclusion of true historical detail such as the burning of the Calumet Club and men and women like George Glassner and Sophia Hayden make it so much more believable.

Lucy Banning is an interesting character. One moment she is stepping into a ballroom and acting the part of a regal lady and the next she is dashing down to the subway in - heaven forbid - store bought clothing to reach the orphanage. Lucy was born and raised to fit into a world of elitism, but her heart and conscience are pulling her into the grungy Chicago streets. Her work at the orphanage and selfless aid of her maid, Charlotte, put her at odds with her wealthy peers and fiance. In a sense, Lucy seems to despair over the lofty position their family holds because, unlike others of her status, she sees the misery and destitution of the less fortunate. The book never explains where Lucy's unique convictions and contempt of her own social class originates from, but one can assume it has something to do with her plucky aunt. Lucy's effort to help is genuine, but her struggle to live in two different worlds can, at times, be awkward.

However, this book is hardly just about Lucy. The inclusion of the industrious Charlotte with her nerve-wracking secret, Lucy's fiance, Daniel, who leaves the reader feeling uneasy, and the charismatic architect Will who is not ashamed to let his interest in Lucy be known all add to a richly woven tale.

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