Friday, March 20, 2009

A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin


Publisher: Bethany House

A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin is one of my favourite Christian novels of the past year. It is sweet confection and tugs your heartstrings while catching you in a dizzy whirl of romance and fun.

Violet Hayes is ecstatic to leave her stepmother and her usual high-society existence for the adventure and mystery she is sure await her at the Chicago World’s Fair. Violet knows that staying with her eccentric aunts and society-hungry grandmother are an easy trade for the chance of finding the mother she recently learned abandoned her….while soaking up the intrigue she has read about in dime novels and Sherlock Holmes stories.

Violet is an imaginative and engaging young woman who is always at the ready to snap up romance and danger. She is winning, endearing and brightly created.
As mentioned, Austin is one of the most capable novelists in the genre. Her structure is always one of her strongest suits. Here is no exception. Violet is courted by four very different suitors and both Violet and the reader are able to dissect each potential relationship though a telling trip to the World’s Fair.

One of Violet’s suitors, the enigmatic “drummer” Silas McClure is like Harold Hill meets Gilbert Blythe. It is hard to characterize Silas’ open charm. He is one of my favourite leading men in all of Christian fiction. He is surprising and mysterious and perfect for Violet…also for me. The two banter and play rounds of “would you rather” as well as exorcise their need for a bit of danger with trips to the beautifully-described Mr. Ferris’ wheel: one of many wonders of the Fair.

Austin has captured the period perfectly. Her characters, wit and dialogue shine. While, surfacely this novel seems to traipse at a more sunny and simplistic gait than the sterner subject of other works, it has serious undercurrents touching on abandonment, cultural and social discordance, loss, and the rights and roles of women in a subservient era.

And, on a superficial level, the novel has one of the most perfect kissing scenes I have ever read. Think of all of the hyperbole given “the kiss” in Goldman’s “Princess Bride” and top it by ten. This scene is electric.

Shove away the early Spring shivers with a warm and inviting novel that will send jolts of happiness up your arms and tingle your fingers with giddy joy.

I LOVE this book.

I recommend this novel heartily to readers Christian and non.

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