Book Review

‘The Invention of Sarah Cummings’ by Olivia Newport

tiosc onSTORY: Sarah Cummings has one goal in life–to break into Chicago’s high society. Desperate to stop serving dinner and to start eating at society tables, Sarah alters cast-off gowns from the wealthy Banning women to create lustrous, flattering dresses of her own. On a whim at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name.

But as she gets closer to Simon Tewell, the director of St. Andrew’s Orphanage, Sarah finds that she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of. Will she sacrifice love to continue her pretense? Or can Simon show her that sometimes you don’t have to pretend for dreams to come true?

Olivia Newport brings us back to Prairie Avenue to explore the place where class, social expectations, and romance come together. Readers will enjoy following the intrepid Sarah as she searches for true love in a world of illusions.

REVIEW: Sarah Cummings grew up in the St. Andrew’s Orphanage in Chicago.  Later, she got a job as a maid with the Banning family.  She is a very talented seamstress and has made over many dresses that have been passed down to her by her employer.  She dreams of being part of the Chicago social scene.  On her days off, she likes to dress up and explore the shops.

One day, Sarah happens to meet socialite Lillie Wagner in a hat shop.  Seeing her nice dress, Lillie assumes she is also a socialite.  When introducing herself, Sarah says she is Serena Cuthbert and tells a story of being the daughter of a wealthy couple who are now out of town.  Lillie and Sarah meet often for lunch or dinner and Sarah meets some of her society friends, one of whom is Brad, a handsome and dashing man working with the presidential campaign.

Trying to keep her two lives separate, Sarah works to get as much time off as possible from her job, often exchanging favors with another maid.  As she serves dinners in the Banning home, she is always afraid that she might meet up with someone that she has met at a society party under the guise of Serena.

Sarah’s sewing skills are called upon by the director of the Orphanage, Simon Tewell, so she agrees to give sewing lessons to some of the girls providing them with skills that will help them find a good job when they leave the Orphanage.

But when her two lives finally meet up and she is caught in her lie, Lillie is angry and hurt.  Brad’s attentions soon become more unwelcome and aggressive.  In the meantime, Simon Tewell is showing his admiration and more for her.  Which route in life will she choose?

This was a well-written novel with well-developed characters.  While I understood Sarah wanting more from life for herself, the lies she told to get there were bound to catch up to her.

Connie for b2b


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