My third selection for Misfit Salon's Reading Challenge is A Proper Pursuit by Lynn Austin (2007) because I don't generally read Christian fiction. Since Austin is a Christy Award ("where the best Christian fiction is celebrated and promoted") winner, I thought something by her seemed like a good place to try.
The start of the book, set in May 1893:
I couldn't imagine more shocking news.
I sat at Widow Maude O'Neill's dining room table and stared at my father as the overcooked mutton on my plate grew cold. I would have cried out in protest and begged him to reconsider, but as a recent graduate of Madame Beauchamps' School for Young Ladies, I'd learned that a proper young lady never caused a scene at the supper table, especially if she was a guest.
Father looked immensely pleased with himself. He leaned back in his chair, his hand thrust inside his suit coat as he played with his watch chain. Maude, dressed in widow's black for the last time, wore the phony smile that she reserved for my father and did her best to blush like a maiden. She had won a valuable prize in my father, John Jacob Hayes, and she knew it.
So begins the quest of twenty-year-old Violet Hayes to learn what happened to her mother to leave her father free to remarry by going to visit her grandmother and great-aunts in the Big City--Chicago, in this particular case. Along the way, she manages to learn a lot about not only her family, but herself and issues like women's rights, the lives of the poor, and everything to do with finding the right husband. And she becomes so much more, so much better, than a polite young lady.
Austin provides a sweet, entertaining read with a very engaging heroine in Violet.
My overall personal rating of A Proper Pursuit is a B+.