Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (Avenue of Dreams, #2)Author: Olivia Newport
Publication Date: January 2013
Publisher: Revell
Series: Avenue of Dreams Series # 2

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 Banning’s 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 portrays social classes while creating a story of courage, strength, and tender romance.

“‘Charlotte, where did that baby come from?’ Sarah paced swiftly around the yard in several directions, peering into every angle of the courtyard. ‘Did someone leave him in the laundry basket?’” – Paperback Copy pg. 18

“One more night had passed with her son slumbering across the hall, but still Charlotte had no plan for how to withstand the blustering storm when the truth leaped from her heart to the Bannings’ faces. And surely a storm was coming if she did not simply take her son and leave. She missed Lucy Banning Edwards keenly. Lucy would have known what to do.” – Paperback Copy pg. 39

“She swung her feet to the floor, stood, and moved to the vanity table, where she tucked in stray hand and pinched some color into her cheeks. Nothing was stopping her from seeing him right now if she wanted to.” – Paperback Copy pg. 116

“A shiver ran through Charlotte as she remembered his touch in the early days. She had always hated it, had never wanted Lathan Landers.” – Paperback Copy pg. 239

This book was a good read and I really loved the plot; however, this book did not meet the standards of the first book in this series. In this installment we have Charlotte Farrow, maid in the Banning household, who has hidden her infant child since his birth. The woman that has been taking care of Charlotte’s baby boy for all that time leaves unexpectedly and leaves Charlotte’s baby behind, forcing Charlotte to make some major decisions. Charlotte’s life as a servant in the Banning household will not lend itself to life as a mother as well. When people start questioning who the infant belongs to Charlotte realizes that she can never admit that he is hers. She believes that giving up her son, Henry, is what’s best.

I loved the Chicago setting and the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair as a backdrop is just a wonderful added detail. The setting was perfect for allowing readers to position a lens into a rapid expanding America and its industrial expansion as well. My history nerd was having an epileptic fit while reading because I don’t get settings like this very often and I absolutely loved it! We are able to see the more privileged classes as well as the struggles of the working class. It was also nice to see how Charlotte interacted with some of the other servants who were essentially her peers and close acquaintances.

I really admired Charlotte as a character and I loved her drive, as well as seeing her character progress throughout the story. Lucy was by far my favorite character in this series because she just had a certain spark about her from the spark where as Charlotte had to grow on me a little bit. For so long I just wanted her to speak up for her baby and to shut people like Sarah, who referred to her child as “It”, down. I liked Charlotte’s spunk and I loved Archie and their relationship even more.

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest and unbiased review***

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