September 19, 2013 Rissi JC 8 Comments

‘THE INVENTION OF SARAH CUMMINGS,’ BY OLIVIA NEWPORT. Sharing thoughts on the 2013 historical novel from Revell. All text © Rissi JC

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!

‘THE INVENTION OF SARAH CUMMINGS,’ BY OLIVIA NEWPORT #FWarchives #BookReview #HistoicalFiction Click To Tweet

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:

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

Author: Olivia Newport
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: 2013
Find the Review Elsewhere: Amazon | Goodreads | WordPress
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
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.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.

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  • Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com September 19, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Great honest review. You make an excellent point about the male lead.

    • Rissi September 19, 2013 at 6:50 PM

      Thanks for dropping by and reading, Juju. :)

      That is the one "big thing" I felt about this series – the male lead was just too underplayed. They were sweet books, just not favorites.

  • Rosie Wilson September 20, 2013 at 3:09 AM

    Rissi, you hit the nail on the head. I knew something was off about the romance but I couldn't set my finger on it when I typed up my review. You are exactly right, the guys were underplayed. I'm with you though, this is my favorite in the series. Great review! ;)

    • Rissi September 21, 2013 at 3:17 AM

      Right there with you, Rosie – I've had that happen TOO many times when writing up reviews. I can for sure sympathize.

      I'm not a girl who always has to have a book that is overwhelmed by the romance, however a subtle romance doesn't mean the male lead should suffer. Authors can write a memorable hero without having to "up" the romance.

      Thanks for reading – I'm going to be catching up on your blog really soon; life's just been busy lately! :)

  • Hannah Barta October 3, 2013 at 3:17 AM

    This does sound interesting! I didn't put it on my reading list because of your rating, I think (I tend to only put it on my list if it's 4 or more out of 5); but it does sound cool!

    • Rissi October 3, 2013 at 9:40 PM

      Awesome. Hope you enjoy the book when you read it, Hannah; of the three novels in this series, I think this was my most favorite. It's a sweet read. Happy reading! :)



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