Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Invention of Sarah Cummings - A Review
Sarah Cummings is a parlor maid in the household of the wealthy Bannings on Prairie Avenue. She longs to better herself and break out of service and into the wealthy society. She's become quite talented at remaking the discarded gowns of her employer into something new and fashionable.When she's out window shopping one afternoon on her day off, a young woman of means assumes that Sarah is also wealthy. On the spur of the moment, Sarah invents a new identity for herself, Serena Cuthbert. So begins her double life. As Serena, Sarah is able to go and do things that a domestic servant could not. Yet, all the lies she's told are bound to catch up with her. What will she do when the girl she's befriended insists on attending the sewing class that Sarah has been teaching at the orphanage she once lived at? And when two men, one of wealth and privilege the other a simple orphanage director, both start to show an interest in her, who will Sarah choose? Will she follow her heart or her dreams?
This is the third and final book in Olivia Newport's Avenue of Dreams series. This series follows three young women who want something bigger for themselves - Lucy Banning - a college education in a time where women were not encouraged to seek higher learning, Charlotte Farrow - a chance to raise her son without his father finding him, and Sarah Cummings - the dream of a better life outside of servitude. It is highly recommended to read the series in order, though it is not completely necessary. This book brings back both Lucy and Charlotte, though neither plays a large role in the story.
I have to say that Sarah annoyed me from the moment that I met her in the Pursuit of Lucy Banning. I'd hoped that by this story, I'd have grown to like Sarah more. Sadly, for me, that was not the case. I struggled to find redeeming qualities in her for the majority of the book. I didn't like the choices she was making and the fact that she had no qualms at all about deceiving her friend and other people really bugged me. I found her to be very selfish. It wasn't until well over halfway into the book, that Sarah seemed to develop a conscience. And that was in part due to the orphans she was working with.
Redeeming qualities of this book for me were the rich historical detail. I loved that. I also loved Simon. I thought he was very good to see in Sarah something she didn't see in herself. I also loved Jane and Lillie (Sarah's friend). I found those characters to be very real and in some instances very forgiving. I also loved reconnecting with the characters from the first two books.
Overall, the book was intriguing and very rich in history. The fact that Sarah herself became more likable towards the end of the story definitely caused my rating to increase.
I received the Kindle version of this book for free from Revell Books via NetGalley for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to write a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
Recommended to fans of the Gilded Age, historical fiction, Olivia Newport, Laura Frantz, Lisa Tawn Bergren, Elizabeth Camden
Rating - 3.5 stars, which will be 3 stars on Amazon.
Available in September 2013 from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group.