Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Review & Interview: The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport!!



The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport
Series: Avenue of Dreams - Book One
Revell ~ 2012

About the book:


She has a secret to keep. But will she give her heart away?

Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work and squeeze herself into the mold of the well-dressed wife who spends most of her time and money redecorating.

When she meets Will, an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?

Get swept away into the lavish world of Chicago's high society as Olivia Newport brings to life an age of glitz and grandeur, stark social contrasts, and one woman who dares to cross class lines for what she believes.

My rating:
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My thoughts:

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning was a very entertaining and quick read! I ended up finishing it in under two days! It took me a couple chapters to really become engaged in the story, but after that I fell in "love" with the characters and story.

I immediately liked Will Edward. He was funny and sweet - he even made me laugh a few times!  Charlotte was another great character - I am really looking forward to knowing more about her character in Olivia's next book, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow.


The Pursuit of Lucy Banning had romance, suspense, stalking, Chicago history, and more. While I know this is fiction, it was interesting to read how privileged families lived back in the 19th Century and to find out that so many things that happened in this book actually happened in real life!

I loved this book and completely recommend it if you enjoy historical romance novels! This is a great one! :)

*I received this book for free for my review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*

An interview with Olivia Newport!!


Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Olivia! How did The Pursuit of Lucy Banning get started?


I have Chicago suburban roots, but I had not heard of the Prairie Avenue Historical District until a friend of mine became a docent at the Glessner House Museum on Prairie Avenue. This house preserves the flavor of Chicago’s gilded age when the neighborhood was full of wealthy powerhouses of industry. As soon as my friend began his training, he saw the potential for the setting of a story. He is not a fiction writer, but he knew my interests. It did not take us long to cook up story ideas about a daughter of a privileged family who engaged with the changing social climate of her time.

Your book is layered with historical detail. Tell us about your research process.

My docent friend, Stephen Reginald, is a history buff. He spits out the most interesting details sometimes, and before I know it, I am digging too. We both scoured the archives of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for headlines and language of the era. I looked for true events that serve as hooks in the stories. The Internet turns up all sorts of obscure books and historical accounts. One of my favorites was a first person travelogue written by someone who visited the world’s fair in 1893. Stephen’s work at the Glessner House Museum opened a portal into diaries and museum pieces that helped me faithfully recreate the story’s setting.

What impact did your research have on you personally?


One of the most fun research pieces I uncovered was a guide to caring for young children published in 1894. The prevailing expert advice was not to play with a baby before he or she was four months old, preferably six! I love giving a copy of this book to new mothers. On the other end of the spectrum was heartbreaking information about the desperate needs of orphans during that time period. We may think we have more sophisticated system for addressing certain social issues, but we have a long way to go.

How do you see yourself in Lucy Banning’s story?


I certainly have never been the daughter of a privileged family! However, Lucy Banning and I do share an infatuation with red velvet cake. More seriously, Lucy is looking for genuine meaning in her life, even if it means taking risks. I’d like to think I would do the same thing.

While you were writing the book, do you think it mattered that you grew up near Chicago?

Even as an adult, I’ve lived in the Chicago area for several stretches, and several siblings and their children live there. (Go Cubs!) When I was a child, visiting the Museum of Science and Industry was a wide-eyed experience for me. As a young mother, I took my kids there. I think of it as the Museum of Wonder and Curiosity. Then I discovered that the building itself was part of the 1893 world’s fair, the backdrop for my series. Little did I know I would grow up to write about events that took place in a building that held so much fascination for me.


Will we know what happens to Lucy Banning after the end of the book?

Charlotte Farrow is a secondary character in The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, and she will have her own full story next. The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow will release in January. After that comes Sarah Cummings, who is introduced during Charlotte’s story. Lucy Banning and her family appear in all three books. Even though the main characters will change, readers can follow the next several years of Lucy’s life.

Where do you like to write?

I advocate writing by keeping your bottom in the chair, but I’m flexible about the kind of chair! Research happens at my desk where I can spread things out. Several years ago, in a thrift store, I found a wide, comfy recliner with a built-in massage feature. When I’m in serious get-words-on-the-screen mode rather than researching, I write in cushy comfort. However, I also think that writing is a consuming process, and I may solve a plot dilemma while I’m walking through the neighborhood or hear the perfect line of dialogue in my head while pulling weeds. When I’m immersed in a story, it’s hard to set it aside until I get it out of me. The writing follows me around as I go about my life.

How do you handle distractions?

Classical music—no words—helps keep my brain in a productive gear. I have a big planner where I write notes so I can let go of information or an urge to do something for the moment. Being comfortable helps with distractions, in terms of the chair, lighting, and room temperature. Otherwise my body responds to every little bothersome sensation. And it’s amazing how effective it is to simply close the door on the household noise.

If someone else were sitting at your desk right now, what would they see?


A visitor to my office would see multiple attempts at organization, some of which are actually useful! I have several racks for folders and papers, and only I know what qualifies for which rack. I insist on colorful, fun folders. A couple of binders hold manuscripts in progress or research. I expect a visitor would be curious about the various notes I have taped up around my desk, some of which are information I refer to because I can’t remember otherwise, and some of which are inspiration, both to keep my writing on task and my heart in a settled place.

When you’re working on a project, how do you keep the immensity of it from getting you down?

Writing a book does seen scary! I break things down. I don’t set out to write a novel. Rather, I set out to complete the next task that may become a part of the novel. The task may be working out a knot in the plot, or writing the next scene, or beefing up research. I focus on doing the next thing that needs doing.

How do you choose between ideas you’d like to write about?


That’s a great question, because I always have more ideas than time to write about them. I’ve had fun with the Avenue of Dreams series, which begins with The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, because I discovered a place I did not know about. That surprise factor launched my imagination. I’m sure I’ll be looking for the same experience in the future and be eager to pass it on to readers.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I love John 1:14. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (NIV) The idea that we can see God's glory in Jesus, and that Jesus shows up complete, filled-up grace and truth, makes me choke up every time I hear this passage read aloud.

Thanks so much for being here, where can we find you on the web?

I'm at www.olivianewport.com, @OliviaNewport and facebook.com/OliviaNewport.

2 comments:

  1. Great review, I just started reading this one and find the characters just draw me right in. The cover is quite eye catching, something that I always appreciate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Brenda!! I also really like the cover! :)

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