Sunday, January 27, 2013
Book Review: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow/3 Stars
Charlotte Farrow, maid in the wealthy Banning household on Chicago's opulent Prairie Avenue, has kept her baby boy a secret from her employers for nearly a year. But when the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child's fate. Can she face the truth of her own past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life's tragedies determine the future for her?
This compelling story set against the glittering backdrop of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition captures the tension between the wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable. Author Olivia Newport expertly portays social classes while creating a story of courage, strength, and tender romance.
After reading Olivia Newport's exceptional debut novel, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, I was oh-so-eager to return to Prairie Avenue to catch the latest happenings in the Banning household. While Lucy's story had a definite taste of the rich and cultured "upstairs" life, Charlotte's story was all about the "downstairs" life of service.
The story started out great, but before too long, I grew bored. Believe me, I didn't want to. The arrival of Henry at the house, and the reasons why he was there, seemed contrived and not believable. The lack of romance also played a factor in my disappointment. Archie's attraction to Charlotte never appeared to be fully explored initially, and her reluctance to entertain a relationship with him lingered too long. And like the first book, the spiritual elements were lacking again.
But on the flip side, the continuance of the Chicago World's Fair and the history of their mayor were thoroughly enjoyable. The addition of the anarchist movement, while not mentioned at great detail, was a perfect element to include and showed the early beginnings of what we now know as the eight-hour workday.
I do wish to finish the series, and am curious as to which heroine will be the focus of the third and final book.
**Many thanks to Revell for providing a copy for review in exchange for my honest opinion.