Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: It Happened At The Fair

It Happened at the FairAuthor: Deeanne Gist
Publication Date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Howard Books

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 Machinery Palace 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 the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

“He tried not to think about it. There was no point in trying to figure out a woman. They were illogical, inconsistent, confounded creatures, and Cullen didn’t know why God thought He’d been doing Adam a favor.”

“Touch was one of the main sources of communication with the deaf.”

“That may be, but I think it’s fair to say, we’re way past the formalities.”

“Before we dismiss, we have another distinguished guest I’d like to briefly introduce you to. Considering he is best known for inventing the telephone, you might not be aware he is also a long time advocate for the deaf. Please welcome Dr. Alexander Graham Bell.”

“You’ve offered the fruit of your hands. No one would ask for more. Not your mother, not God, not anyone.”

Stop what you are doing (well finish reading the review first) and go out and buy this book! I am in love with the characters, the setting, and the storyline! I must admit that this is the first book I have read by Deeanne Gist, please don’t shoot, and now I am on a mission to own all of her books. Her writing style and character voices are so alluring and drew me in immediately. She has the ability to make you feel right at home. This novel is set at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and follows the story of two unlikely character who form a sweet, subtle bond that made me smile at the turn of every page.

What I loved most about this story was the characters, especially Cullen McNamara. This story hit home with me because my fiancé is completely deaf, unlike Cullen but I could still relate to a lot of what was going on in the story. Della Wentworth is a teacher for the deaf and helps them improve their lip-reading skills. She also teaches Cullen some sign language in this book and I found this so endearing. Sign language was apparently looked down on in this time period because it set you apart and made you different from everyone else. I learned sign language for my fiancé, even though he hears some with a device, and also have started to read lips better since I am around him so much. I found their relationship similar to my own and Deeanne has a way of making me swoon!

I also really enjoyed reading about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. This was a major attraction and brought many people to the windy city. Deeanne has definitely done some extensive research when it comes to this event, and even adds pictures to the story so that readers can relate to the many buildings and attractions that Della and Cullen visit while studying. Deeanne includes an extensive “Author’s Note” at the back of the book as well that provides a little more insight as to what she learned about the fair, those involved, and the deaf community!

***A copy of this book was generously provided to me by the publishers at Howard Books in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. How neat that you were able to relate to this story, Chelsey - that always lends more realism to a book. This was certainly a memorable novel and I hope you enjoy more of Deeanne's books! :)