A coming-of-age story set in late-19th-century Illinois. The great strength of this novel comes from the first-person narrator’s charming voice: 20-year-old Violet Hayes is distressed to learn that her father is remarrying-and that her mother, whom Violet believed lay recovering from a mysterious illness in a sanitarium somewhere, had in fact simply abandoned her family and filed for divorce. To escape a stepmother-to-be she can’t stand, Violet heads to Chicago to stay with her grandmother and great-aunts. Although she’s recently graduated from a genteel school for young ladies, it’s in Chicago that Violet’s real education begins. One great-aunt tries to persuade her to join the suffrage movement, while another introduces Violet to elite society and urges her to catch a wealthy husband. Her grandmother, who takes her cues from Jane Addams, introduces Violet to the world of revivalist Christianity and inner-city good works, prompting Violet to re-examine her own faith. Two questions drive the plot: will Violet find her mother, and will she encounter true love? Readers will enjoy accompanying Violet as she discovers the answers, her calling, and her adult self.
Author: Lynn Austin