About It Happened at the Fair
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?
My thoughts about It Happened at the FairMy father was born deaf, but the level of his hearing loss has increased as time has gone on. As a result, I did not need to use sign language with him as I was growing up and we have always been able to communicate with him reading my lips. However, I have noticed that when he meets new people, he has trouble with lip reading and really needs them to sign, or have someone translate. I do know how to sign, but it has always been easier for he and I to communicate with lip reading. Anyway, those experiences and just growing up with a deaf father in general, made me very interested in reading this book. I found it incredibly interesting to see how the deaf were treated in that age.
I also have always been fascinated with the World Fairs, so that was the second thing that drew me to this story. The author did a fabulous job of describing the Fair, that I felt as though I was actually there. The amount of research she did was evident in her descriptions of the exhibits and architecture. Having said that, I do feel there was a bit too much invested in the description and not enough on the storyline of the book. Then, all of a sudden, at the end of the book, the relationship between Della and Cullen explodes and moves rather quickly. It is important to note that some of the descriptions of the physical relationship go a little far, not too far, but a little farther than some may be comfortable with.
I recommend this book to those who have a deep interest in the World Fairs, particularly in Chicago, and those who enjoy deaf history. Those who enjoy romance novels will still enjoy this book, but may be disappointed in the more descriptive parts of the book.