Reviewed by Rel Mollet
A Proper Pursuit by
"...a fascinating insight into the era, particularly with reference to women, their status, constraints and desires."
While distraught at the lies told to her surrounding her mother's death, their discovery gives twenty year old, Violet Hayes the impetus to defy her father and travel to Chicago to visit with her grandmother and three great aunts.
Violet soon discovers that each of the elderly sisters has a plan for her future ~ Agnes intends to match her with one of the wealthy offspring of her socialite friends, Matilda wishes to open her eyes to women's rights and claim her independence, her grandmother prays she will humbly assume a life of religious servitude and the loving but senile Birdie wants her to marry for love.
Violet's naivety and overactive imagination soon entangle her in all manner of humorous and socially awkward situations as she scrambles to apply the etiquette drummed in to her at Madame Beauchamps School for Young Ladies. Suddenly a number of gentlemen are seeking her hand but Violet is concerned about their motives and carefully considers their merits and attributes. Simultaneously Violet hopes to discover the truth about her mother and commences her own investigation, aided by her clandestine yet voracious reading of dime novels and pulp fiction magazines, including True Crime Stories, The Illustrated Police News and True Romance Stories.
A Proper Pursuit is an entertaining diversion from Lynn Austin's usual intense writing style. Set against the backdrop of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 it is a fascinating insight into the era, particularly with reference to women, their status, constraints and desires. Violet delightfully depicts the frustrations of an independent young woman of that time, bound by social obligations yet yearning for more in her relationships and aspirations for her future. Lynn Austin uses Violet's grandmother and each of the aunts to display the options available to women and likewise, with each of Violet's suitors, men of the era are depicted. While it was clear early on which path Violet would choose, the mystery surrounding her mother adds intrigue and further depth to the story. Details relating to the Fair and its exhibits were obviously well researched and provide substance to a lively and engaging tale.
Rel Mollet is a lawyer, wife and mother of three young daughters and lives in Melbourne, Australia. Reading has been her passion since childhood. She is a Book Club Co-ordinator and has her own website ~ relzreviewz ~ dedicated to reviews and author interviews with the sole aim to support authors writing from a Christian worldview. She believes Sir Francis Bacon's (1561 - 1626) creed, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body".