Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
When Violet Hayes ventures to Chicago during the time of the World's Fair, her one goal is to find her mother, who has been missing from her life since she was nine. Naive, impressionable, and highly imaginative (having secretly ingested a diet of romance novels and true crime stories at school), Violet stays in Chicago under the care of her grandmother and her three great aunts. It is here that her perspectives on life are opened as she is exposed to the world about her--from high society to the poor immigrant families; from the suffragette movement to the security of a suitable marriage match. As Violet contemplates what course her life will take, she will discover the missing parts of her family's past--and, ultimately, Violet will discover herself.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Twenty-year-old Violet Hayes returns home after graduating from a refined boarding school for young ladies to learn her father is remarrying. Her mother, whom Violet thought was recuperating from an unexplained illness in a sanitarium, had in truth abandoned her family and filed for divorce when Violet was nine. To get away from her new stepmother-to-be, Violet decides to go to Chicago (the World's Fair is on) to visit with her grandmother and great-aunts. Her main goal, though, is to find her mother. Because Violet tells this story in the first person, the listener views her dealings from a naive adolescent perspective; her thoughts about life are lighthearted and inexperienced. Violet's insatiable reading of mysteries explains her bubbly imagination and influences her understanding of people and events. She is somewhat shallow and superficial, but she matures by book's end into a multifaceted and kindly spirit. The historical setting is interesting, illustrating high society, women's struggle for equal rights, the difficulties of the poor, parenting, romantic love, and Christian social action. Unfortunately, the plot is ultimately predictable. Reader Jennifer Ikeda does a fine job and has good intentions, but the book, published last fall in hardcover, is monotonous and fragmented. Austin, the multiple Christy Award-winning author of A Woman's Place, has written some wonderful novels, but this one is not quite up to par. Purchase on request.--Carol Stern, Glen Cove P.L., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Christy award-winning historical novelist Austin delivers her strongest offering yet, a coming-of-age story set in late-19th-century Illinois. The great strength of this novel comes from the first-person narrator's charming voice: 20-year-old Violet Hayes is distressed to learn that her father is remarrying-and that her mother, whom Violet believed lay recovering from a mysterious illness in a sanitarium somewhere, had in fact simply abandoned her family and filed for divorce. To escape a stepmother-to-be she can't stand, Violet heads to Chicago to stay with her grandmother and great-aunts. Although she's recently graduated from a genteel school for young ladies, it's in Chicago that Violet's real education begins. One great-aunt tries to persuade her to join the suffrage movement, while another introduces Violet to elite society and urges her to catch a wealthy husband. Her grandmother, who takes her cues from Jane Addams, introduces Violet to the world of revivalist Christianity and inner-city good works, prompting Violet to re-examine her own faith. Two questions drive the plot: will Violet find her mother, and will she encounter true love? Readers will enjoy accompanying Violet as she discovers the answers, her calling and her adult self. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.