STORY: Sarah Cummings lives the only life open to her since she lost her parents as a young girl. Left an orphan, she grows up at St. Andrew’s and immediately goes into service at the age of sixteen. Living on the prestigious Prairie Avenue in the home of the Banning’s, Sarah plans for a better more prestigious life, driven by the lifestyle and fine gowns she sees on a nightly basis. Through the years, she receives hand-me-downs from Mrs. Banning which helps Sarah craft a skill with a needle. After a chance meeting with a recent Chicago transplant, Sarah invents a mysterious, Chicago socialite named Serena Cuthbert. This draws her into a whirlwind of possibilities including a wealthy, politically ambitious suitor and possibly, the man who can give Sarah the life she wants.
The Invention of Sarah Cummings, by Olivia Newport | Book Review
Sarah Cummings is likely a name we all remember. Or those of us who have read Newport’s Avenue of Dreams series will. She makes quite the impression on us as a bratty maid at the Banning home and now, she earns her own story in the final book of the trilogy. Early on, the story starts lovely. There’s more depth and interest about Sarah; she seems to be a “better” person. What’s interesting about this is that behind Sarah’s deception is a dream. However, it’s the way that Sarah goes about inventing her fate that’s wrong; and walks a fine line between truth and deception. About three-fourths the way through the book, there’s a 180 switch in her personality and suddenly, the little brat was back. This I did not see coming!
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Carried through the entire threads of the book is Sarah’s love of re-working the gowns she is given. It’s an interesting part of the novel, which of course, is a parallel of the transformation Sarah wants from life.
Not unlike its predecessors, I have to be honest and say that the real flaw of the series is how insignificant the men are. I recognize that this is about three women coming-of-age, however, I think stronger male leads would benefit the plot. Plus, the romance would be more interesting; the rush to end the book in a happy manner would also be more genuine. Minor in complaint, there’s also a lot of uses of character’s first names. Despite the squabbles I’ve have with this series, they’re sweet weekend reads. There is some great historical detail and Sarah ends up making a more complex character that I’d expect. Because of this, The Invention of Sarah Cummings just may be the best of the series.
About the Book:
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Author: Olivia Newport
Publication Date: 2013
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Series: Avenue of Dreams – book 3
Genre: Christian Fiction; Historical
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5
Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.