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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It Happened at the Fair...Review

About the book:
A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with his most recent invention. But the noise in the Fair’s Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.

The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?

Having invented an automatic, indoor sprinkler system, Cullen McNamara reluctantly travels to the World's Fair in Chicago to try and sell it. Finding it difficult to communicate with potential customers, he hires a young woman to teach him the art of lip-reading.  As their friendship deepens and Cullen finds himself falling in love with Della, he knows he must break his engagement to a childhood friend.  Cullen also must find a way to demonstrate to the fair going public that his sprinkler system will work.  But, the path to true love and success is never easy and more than one obstacle stands in his way.

 I found the exploration of hearing impairment fascinating.  As Cullen comes to terms with his hearing loss, Della comes to realize the importance of the deaf learning to sign as well as lip read. I had an inkling, but no real understanding of the prejudice that deaf people would have faced at the turn of the century.

This novel could have been too involved with all the information and facts, but it wasn't.  Instead, historically, this is simply a captivating story.  I loved Cullen and Della. I appreciated the author's note in the back and I absolutely adored the fact that she included authentic photos from the Chicago World's Fair.  That was absolutely brilliant and made for a much richer reading experience.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Deeanne Gist here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars


  1. I am excited to try this one!

  2. I love the premise of this book because I know sign language. Thanks for the review!

  3. Thanks for your post, Holly! It was a fun book to write (and research). I, too, am so sad the Fair was temporary. I would have LOVED to walk through it. And I'm very thankful to my publisher for including the photos in the book.

    Just so you know, the eBook has different photos than the print book ... just sayin'. ;)

  4. This was a great one, Holly - I enjoyed it also. Definitely underestimated Deeanne. :)