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It Happened at the Fair

(It Happened at the Fair #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  3,196 ratings  ·  426 reviews
A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

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 Machin
Paperback, 418 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Howard Books (first published April 2013)
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Melissa Yes it is a sweet romance, but there is so much more to the book then just the romance. And although there is a bit of a love triangle, it is not all …moreYes it is a sweet romance, but there is so much more to the book then just the romance. And although there is a bit of a love triangle, it is not all the book focuses on. I didn't feel distracted by it. Sometimes love triangles can be annoying because it is all the character is thinking about throughout the whole book, but I didn't feel that way at all. I felt like yes, it was part of the story, but I was interested in the setting and the other obstacles he had to overcome as well. It was a Great read!(less)

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Christian Fiction Addiction
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I picked up Deeanne Gist's latest book certain that my manly brain was about to be overwhelmed with romance, and I wasn't entirely sure how much I'd even enjoy the book. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself hooked within only a few scenes, and I kept having to sneak away to read just one more chapter to see what would develop next! Now don't get me wrong: though this book is entirely clean of any inappropriate scenes, Deanne Gist still manages to create some moments that seem somewhat ...more
Jocelyn Green
This has a little more romance in it than what I usually read, but the history alone--the description of the World's Fair of 1893--made this a delight to read. With characters who had vested interests in the fair and with the setting firmly placed in the fair for almost all of the book, the almost-unbelievable Columbian Exposition burst off the pages. I'm very impressed by this author's work on this novel. ...more
SUMMARY: 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
Cullen McNamara is a cotton farmer from North Carolina with an unusual – and potentially dangerous - problem. He is badly allergic to cotton and to plants in general. In his twenties, he lives with his father and step-mother on their farm and struggles, year after year, with the effect that the cotton has on his lungs and his body. But he accepts this as his lot, and is content for the most part.

But he has a knack for mechanics, and having lost his mother in a fire when he was a child, he has s
Becky ♡The Bookworm♡
This was a delightful story set against the fascinating background of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Cullen's plight held my interest from cover to cover and I adored the way he treated Della. While he had so much to lose, she struggled with trust issues drilled into her by her overprotective father. Watching this couple overcome their obstacles turned out to be a lovely trip back in time.

There is so much to like in this story that I could fill pages and pages with this review! Here are just a
Tara Chevrestt
This is one of the best books I've read in some time, one that once you pick it up, you want to read it all the way through and have to force yourself to eat, sleep, and do anything not related to the book. And then when you are doing those things, you're thinking about the book or telling the husband all about it.

It's the Chicago World's Fair in the 1890s...and Cullen is there trying to sell his invention: an automatic sprinkler system. His family is about to lose his farm so he's under tremend
Feb 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
I am, in general, a fan of Deeanne Gist. However, I feel some of her best works are her earlier ones, though, and this novel affirms that feeling.

I really appreciated the historical climate and situation of the 1893 Worlds Fair. The amount of detail poured into the book was done tastefully and I did not feel like it distracted from the story. The problem lies more with the fact that there is very little story. Punctuated by extremely short chapters that rudely segment any sense of flow - the plo
Cullen is a young inventor, his father wanting him to go for his dreams has purchased his tickets and applied for him to go to the World Fair in Chicago. Cullen's invention is the automatic fire sprinkler, it's the next step in fire safety and prevention. It could save the lives of many. But he's having a hard time selling any because he can't prove it works.

Della is a young attractive lady who is a teacher for deaf children, teaching them how to read lips rather then use sign language. The who
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's 1893, and the Chicago World's Fair is hugely popular. While much of the rest of the country is facing bank shutdowns and lost mortgages, everything new and extravagant is happening at the Fair.. North Carolina farmer, Cullen McNamara, is highly allergic to his cotton fields but he's also a talented inventor. He's created an automatic sprinkler system for putting out fires. His father gambles his farm on Cullen's ability to sell his product at the fair.

Della Wentworth is a teacher for deaf c
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Chicago World’s Fair came once and last six months. The novel, “It Happened at the Fair” has come once and I wish it would have lasted me those six months!

From first chuckle to last sigh, this novel made my five-star book shelves and my favorites for 2013. Sweetly romantic, sassy and charming, I couldn’t have loved spending time with these characters more.

I don’t think you could have a richer in culture and history setting than the World’s Fair. There aren’t many books out there set in thi
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was such a fun book to read. I love learning about history threw fiction. Now I feel like a know a lot more about the World Fair, this book even included awesome pictures. There is also a great story and two well developed characters that I really enjoyed reading. There is a whole deaf background I never knew about. One of the characters is hard of hearing and is really treated badly but those who find out. I couldn't believe how they used to treat people who couldn't hear. My husband has h ...more
Dana Michael
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have had this book for a while but just now read it. I'm mad at myself for taking so long. This is the first time I have read this author and I loved it. The story was set during the world's fair in 1893. It was heart warming, sweet and romantic. And filled with history. I definitely recommend to all historical romance lovers. ...more
Tori (Book Chick)
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book for all the history!! It was lacking in the "romance" department although there was a love story. But I found myself entranced with the history- especially regarding how the deaf were treated. Good book. ...more
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the history, the characters, the story, the emotions, and most of all the romance. :) There was plenty of sizzle while keeping things clean and I loved it! Another great one from Deeanne Gist.
Reviewed for

Narrated by Amy Rubinate

The World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World Fair of 1893, is the backdrop for this wonderful story. The author’s research is evident in the writing. The book is so steeped in the time, place, and culture that the setting becomes another character. It Happened at the Fair is worth reading for the history and setting alone, but that isn’t the only reason to read. The characters are
Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Confession: I don't typically love history because of how it was taught in school. So, I've learned to armchair travel through time and across the globe through my love of fiction. Admittedly, there are problems with taking this tack too far - fiction is fiction for a reason - artistic license. However, most stories I read are at least in a historically real time or place. And this author even tells us (after notes) where she took artistic license. How cool is that?

Confession: Though I am a Chri
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cullen McNamara dreamed of exhibiting his invention at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, but never expected the dream to become reality. When his father pushed him to go, he agreed only because his father had already paid his way, and the fees were non-refundable. Once there, he realized that his secret hearing loss made conducting business almost impossible. His fears of his father losing his investment prompted him to ask Della, a teacher of hearing-impaired children, to teach him to lip-read. Th ...more
Ruth Hill
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I first picked up this book, I wondered why on earth I was reading another "sappy historical romance." I am so glad that the author proved me wrong! I was absolutely enthralled by this book to the point that I did not want to put it down. The story was somewhat predictable at times, but it was different enough that I was intrigued. I fell in love with Della and Cullen, and I wanted to see how the author drew everything together at the end. And she did draw it together extremely well.

I reall
Jessica Wolf
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Finished while babysitting. Conflicted thoughts.

The Good:
I loved this book. I really did. It was expertly researched. The added photographs were amazing. The characters were interesting and dynamic. Really, the book was all-around great. As my first Gist read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Will I be reading another one of her books? Maybe. There's other books I want to read first. And thanks to the ending, I'm not sure that next read will be any time soon.

The Bad:
The book was paced very well. It had
Rebekah Gyger
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Deeanne's books are always amazing but this was one of her best. Mostly light-hearted, it still had moments of great emotion and pain. The characters had to overcome fears, prejudice, and lose. It Happened at the Fair made it clear that life is not always rosy but that we can live through the pain and find joy in the little things. The backdrop representation of all that man has achieved in history was beautifully juxtaposed with the thoughts and ideas that have held us back.

All this was accompl
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a let down. It was so misogynistic. Beyond the clear sexism of the main character, the whole relationship was misogynistic and in turn made to seem like #relationshipgoals. By the author’s closing comments, I’m not even sure she is aware of that. She seemingly try to balance out the unhealthy/sexist relationship by throwing in a woman doctor but the main dude’s sexist comments overshadowed even that. It went beyond sticking to historical accuracy, it was the whole them of the book witho ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
It started off as something to throw in a recycle bin and then progressed to something you enjoy then stick it in your bookshelf to never be read again. I liked learning about the sad history of the fair. The storyline was truly unique. And this author is not afraid of anything, which is good. And this is definitely a book to read in front of a nice cozy fire in the winter. Because reading it in front of a nice cozy fire in summer is just insane.
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A book sale "judge by the cover" that totally paid off! This story hit close to home in the sense that I'm a sign language interpreter and my husband is a firefighter. The story is set during the Chicago world fair and is about a man who invents an automatic sprinkling system for early fire detection and a woman who is a teacher for the deaf. A sweet, clean story of perseverance and chivalry. Loved every minute. ...more
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
This book was pretty decent. The accents got a bit old after a while. I definitely did believe I was taken back to that point in time.
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a well written and entertaining historical romance novel set during the World's Fair in Chicago. Like many of Deanne Gist's novels, I don't consider this one to be Christian fiction, but it is a clean read with only a few sensual scenes towards the end of the novel. Anyway, the character development was decent, and I really liked the protagonists. I'm glad that I finally read this book, as I had read its sequel several years ago and really enjoyed it. ...more
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
"When the fire bell rang, the whole town poured into the streets, me included. I'd been running toward the billowing smoke for a good minute before I realized it was the mill. But even then I wasn't worried. I knew my mother would have gotten out."

White powder fell from their clothing, leaving a trail behind them. Smoke obliterated all sunlight, though they could still see.

"The owner of the mill kept the windows tightly closed so the humidity wouldn't weaken the cotton fibers. The air inside wa
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour, review
Rating: 4.5

Pros: I’ve underestimated Deeanne Gist. There I’ve gone and said it. Way back when, I read her debut novel and my younger self liked it, however ever since then, the pull or allure of that novel was never enough to visit one of her subsequent works of fiction. How delighted I was to be a part of a tour promoting her latest. Gosh, golly, this book was interesting. The story is actually a unique one forcing the reader to feel more “at home” in the historical trivia of the fair than bein
Judith (Judith'sChoiceReads)

My Thoughts

I enjoyed reading It Happened At the Fair, but it isn't my best book by this author. Deeanne Gist gave me A Bride Most Begrudging, Maid to Match and A Bride in the Bargain, all of which are Historical Christian Fiction guilty pleasures of mine. I love her books because Gist knows how to write Christian romance provocatively without losing that faith aspect. At the Fair leaves me conflicted because it didn't hold as strong a faith value as her previous works.

Both Cullen and Della p
Tressa (Wishful Endings)
Loved it, loved it, loved it! Really what else do you need to know? ;) Okay, maybe a little bit more so you can decide if you would love it too.

Deeanne is one of my all-time favorite authors. She puts a lot of research into her books and it shows. I loved the historical background: the old pictures, the actual world fair setting, the descriptions of the buildings, rides, clothing, basically all of it. I felt like I was really pulled back to that time. It wasn't super descriptive, or what I mean
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With over a million copies of her books sold, international bestselling, award-winning author Deeanne Gist has rocketed up bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her original, captivating historicals. Her latest release, Tiffany Girl, was touted as a “Must Year of the Year!” by USA Today, was one of the Top 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2015 by Huffington Post, and one of WikiEzvid' ...more

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