Well, fellow readers, it’s Friday again & you know what that means! Yes, the weekend is almost here but not as importantly it’s time for FAVORITES FRIDAY here on ye olde blog. I skipped it last week because I was birthing babies (ok, so I personally did no birthing and there was only one baby but it was a literature reference so I went with it. Work with me here.) but I am back at it this week with one from my top 5 go-to books when I want to smile.
A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin sweeps you into the world of 1893 Chicago – the World’s Fair, D.L. Moody & his yokefellows, suffragettes, high society balls, Jane Addams’ Hull House. A constant dichotomy of wealth & self-centeredness on the one hand and poverty & self-preservation on the other. Into this paradox of life lands Violet Hayes – running from what her father has planned for her only to find herself escaping to 4 women (her grandmother and 3 elderly aunts) who have very specific plans for her as well. While she’s fending off everyone’s well-intentioned schemes, Violet also desperately wants to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance.
During the summer she spends with her 4 aging relatives, Violet’s once-limited view of life slowly expands as she experiences settings & situations & people she would never have met otherwise. Her heart waffles between 4 different men – each with their own positives and negatives – but is the man she really prefers the one she should stay the farthest from?
Let me say here that I would LOVE to see this book made into a movie. It just begs to be played out on screen, complete with narration so as not to lose the delightful voice in which Ms. Austin writes. I normally don’t even like novels written in first person but I would always make an exception to this preference if they were written like this book. So entertaining and captivating – very Anne-of-Green-Gables-ish but with very much the author’s own twist and personality. I laughed out loud often while reading A Proper Pursuit, many times just from Violet’s thoughts expressed in the narrative voice! Along with being such a delightful book to read, A Proper Pursuit kept me guessing until the end … and then surprised me! I read A LOT as I’ve mentioned before – it’s not often that a book catches me off guard with a twist that I didn’t see coming, but this one did.
I have read several books by Lynn Austin and 4 of her novels have been given the rare classification of ‘favorite’ in my book list: Candle in the Darkness, A Proper Pursuit, Wonderland Creek, and A Light to My Path. What makes this such a testament to Ms. Austin’s talent and diversity of imagination is the fact that these 4 books were all so different from each other! Written in different time periods (except for Candle and Light which are part of the same series, set during the Civil War), in different parts of the United States, with completely different character types who have distinct “accents” and behaviors and personalities. You all know what I mean when I say that some authors, even ones whose books you adore, write pretty much the same kinds of books each time. The plot may be different and the characters of course are different – but nothing about the style is drastically altered from one book to the next. The same can’t be said for Lynn Austin, but I CAN say that each book is excellent and I highly recommend any of her works for your reading pleasure! Start with my favorites if you get overwhelmed 🙂