31 July 2008

A Proper Pursuit, Lynn Austin

We went to different library branch last week, so I started back at the first shelf. I picked up Austin's book because I recalled reading that the one I had read wasn't considered one of her better novels.

This book was quite different. It followed just one lady's story and was set in a completely different era. Late 1800s and Violet has recently graduated from finishing school when her father drops a bombshell on her. He's getting married, but even more startling is the news that her long missing mother isn't dead but divorced.

Violet races off to the city (Chicago) to stay with her grandmother and great aunts with the main goal in mind of finding her mother. She's also attempting to escape a rather boring home town suitor. Along the way she picks up several other suitors. The dubious Silas McCure who seems to be involved in unsavory business; rich Nelson Kent; and devout Louis Decker.

I found the opening of the story quite amusing. Violet takes her finishing school manners **so** seriously. As the story progressed it becomes less amusing as you realise that women of her era had so little else to focus on. I enjoyed watching Violet realise the for herself the lack of substance in her 'education'.

Aside from Violet and her beaus the other main characters are the grandmother and great aunts. Each has a distinctive character. Grandmother is involved in mission work to the slums of the city; Aunt Matt is a early days suffragette; Aunt Agnes is a rich society lady; and Aunt Birdie is the consummate romantic. As Violet becomes involved in each of their pursuits and lives she learns different, important lessons.

I enjoyed this book and Austin has been added to be list of "can be counted on" authors. An 8.

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