When insurance tycoon, Cornelius Nordeman, is recruited to work for the Exposition Corporation, the New Yorker brings his family to live at the Palmer House Hotel, far away from any reminders of a recent tragedy. He’s hopeful this move will offer respite from his family’s grief. Elizabeth Nordeman, his daughter, has something to prove, which leads her to seek work as a florist at Marshall Field’s, Chicago’s finest department store. John Lewis knows something is different and intriguing about the new florist he hired. When his boss, Marshall Field, informs him that Elizabeth is the Nordeman heiress, his job suddenly becomes more complicated–especially when he finds himself falling for her. On the eve of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, Chicago prepares to prove that it’s a first-class city, and the brightest minds from around the country will plan the most spectacular fair the world has seen. The World’s Fair will bring change and innovation into a society bound tightly by class and tradition. Elizabeth’s heart longs to push against those boundaries, so what’s holding her back?
Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the author and JustRead Publicity Tours, the words and opinions below are my own.
I have many casual interests, but two are the Gilded Age and the Columbian Exposition of 1893. Because of those, Palmer Girl grabbed my attention even though I’d not read anything by Dawn Klinge, and it’s self-published. Hey, life is full of new experiences, and new experiences is part of what makes this book great to read. Elizabeth steps out of her world, despite her mother’s wishes, and John has already left the family farm when we meet him.
Negatives? There are a couple so let me dispense with them first. I felt there was a lot of “telling” instead of “showing.” So, we got paragraphs of background information, rather than having it revealed in conversation or by putting the pieces together. The other problem I had was with John’s name. It won’t mean much to American readers, but in 1864 a man named John Lewis opened his first store in London. His business grew into a large chain of department stores named after him that are still in operation today. But these are issues I had with this book and so you may have a difference experience, especially where the name thing is concerned.
Back to the positives… As a lover of history, I appreciated those elements of Palmer Girl. Yes, the Palmers were real people and did own a hotel in Chicago. It still exists today. Gordon Selfridge did work at Marshall Field’s store, even though he’s more well-known for the Selfridge’s store in London. The Ferris Wheel was created for the Columbian Exposition, even though it opened late. Hull House served as a settlement community for the surrounding poor and immigrant neighborhoods. There are also nods to subjects such as unionization and the Panic of 1893.
The story itself is a lovely romance. Here we have two people from different parts of society who meet through work. They start as colleagues, gradually become friends, and then begin a closer relationship. There are misunderstandings along the way, negative emotions that get the better of them, external events that create additional complications, and just enough to make me wonder how it all might end. Considering I can usually spot a Happily Ever After a mile away, that’s a definite plus in my book.
Publisher: Dawn Klinge
Publication Date: 25 September 2020
Dawn Klinge is a Pacific Northwest native who loves a rainy day, a hot cup of coffee, and a good book to get lost in. This wife and mom to two young adults is often inspired by true personal and historical accounts. Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Sorrento Girl is her debut novel, the first in the Historic Hotels Collection. Dawn Klinge’s Website https://www.dawnklinge.com/