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4.0 out of 5 stars 1890s Chicago and the World Fair, May 20, 2012
This review is from: The Pursuit of Lucy Banning: A Novel (Avenue of Dreams) (Volume 1) (Paperback)
This story begins with the premise of a woman's search for personal freedom and escape from the "rules and regulations" of society during the early 1890's in Chicago. Young Lucy Banning is the only girl, with three brothers, in a very wealthy family. She has every privilege of wealth, from home, fashions, and social opportunities, that anyone could imagine. She is also engaged to a young man from a like family; the two families have been very close friends since before their parents even married.

While life could be very scripted, Lucy desires more, much more than her very strict, lady-like circumstances can allow. She manages to enroll for a class at the very new University of Chicago but has to keep it a secret or she would never be allowed to do so; this, of course, involves making many excuses in order to protect her "secret." She also has taken a great interest in a local orphanage and volunteers there on a regular basis. Her life is a series of "secrets" which she has to carefully maneuver through in order to maintain her heart's desires.

Lucy has becomes involved with planning for the Chicago World's Fair, which is due to open in the summer of 1893, and spends much of one day a week helping to plan the exhibits in the "women's center" for the great Fair. She is a busy young woman.

A new maid hired to help serve in the home, Charlotte, comes to the home with a great secret of her own, which Lucy soon discovers and then decides to help the girl with her problems. They become great friends and confidants, which plays a major role in their relationship.

Lucy's dilemma with her fiancé comes as she realizes she and Daniel have very different objectives in life. She is perplexed as to how to handle this, and Daniel is very forceful in attempting her to conform to his wishes. It is a very difficult situation. In the midst of all this, a new young man is introduced into the mix, a man of whom the family knows nothing - but Lucy is smitten. It makes for a fascinating drama within the network of personalities and comes to an amazing conclusion.

The novel as a whole is well-written, interesting, exciting, and dramatic. There are no dull moments, though some events are predictable. However, it gives excellent insight into the lives of the rich and famous of that day, and helps us who live more than a hundred years beyond, a feeling of being blessed by the freedoms we have!
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