About the book: In the second book of the Avenue of Dreams series, Olivia Newport explores the complicated relationship between social classes while creating a story of courage, strength, and tender romance. Set against the glittering backdrop of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, this compelling story captures the tension between the wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable.
Charlotte Farrow, a 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?
My thoughts: Olivia Newport writes a very enjoyable book that plunks you right down in the midst of the specific historical period in which the story is set. In this case we go to Chicago in the 1890s during the period when the World's Columbian Exposition (world fair) is being held. In book one, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, we meet the wealthy folks living in the row of large, beautiful homes where tour groups actually go by to show the common man and woman how the wealthy pursue happiness.
In book one, Lucy Banning enables her maid, Charlotte Farrow, to keep her new born infant a secret. It is important here for the reader to know the social mores of the time. The servants of the upper class were most often required to remain single, have no children, and leave their position of employment should they marry. Compassionate Lucy helped Charlotte. Now in book two, we find Lucy married and leaving for her honeymoon. Charlotte's child is entrusted (secretly) to a nursemaid who cares for the child full time at the behest of Lucy. Suddenly the scene changes and Charlotte is now in possession of her child, on employee (the Banning residence) property, and found out. The dilemma is to convince the others that this "foundling" has been thrust upon them all because of Lucy's caring for orphans and that they should all care for the child until Lucy returns and settles the issue.
The story rambles on with the daily life of the Banning resident, the servants ins and outs with one another, the secrets they share and those that they withhold, and the care of the new foundling.
It is interesting to see how the struggles and interactions of Charlotte with the other servants are so very much directed by the social issues of the times. We get a glimpse into how servants felt about their plight and how there was a movement to provide better working conditions for all afoot on the fringes
It is interesting to see, too, how emotions and love can cause one to do that which does not seem normal but that which is perhaps best for the one we love. It is interesting to see how Charlotte's dilemma is resolved. You'll just have to grab a copy and see for yourself. Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller.
(Tip: Though not absolutely necessary, it is beneficial to read book 1 in the series, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, prior to reading The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow.
My review of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning can be read by clicking this link.
About the author: Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Her novels twist through time to discover where faith and passions meet. Her husband and two adult children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Revell, a Baker House Publishing Group on behalf of the author for the purpose of rendering my honest opinion and review. Opinions expressed are entirely mine.