Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book: It Happened At The Fair

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?


Cullen and Della are participants in the Columbian Exposition of 1893.  Each goes with certain expectations only to find that they will be changed by the fair, and each other.

I loved the history wound into this book.  I visited the World's Fair in Vancouver in '86, but being only 6 years old I don't think I fully understood the meaning behind it.  Deeanne Gist has done her research and provides glimpses of the grounds, the buildings, and the feelings of fair-goers from rural America who had never seen things like this before.

The book is long, but it gives you a chance to really appreciate things from both Cullen and Della's perspective.  Sign language was frowned upon at the time, with the thinking being that it would set apart those who used it.  And Cullen faces some major discrimination because he is losing his hearing.  Della believes that using sign language is a hindrance to the deaf, this she teaches lip reading, but even her beliefs are challenged by her experiences.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book for a glimpse into a different time and a famous event in history.


Read other's reviews or purchase your own copy here: http://ow.ly/komrd

Deeanne Gist---known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee---has rocketed up bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very fun, very original historicals. She has received numerous RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, and rave reviews. Deeanne has a background in education and journalism and a degree from Texas A&M. She has written for People, Parents, and Parenting. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and has four grown children. She has a very active online community on her website at IWantHerBook.com and at Facebook.com/DeesFriends.  

I received this book from LitFuse in exchange for my fair and honest review.

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