For anyone who has ever wished they had been around to experience the wonders of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, DeAnne Gist’s newest novel “It Happened at the Fair” offers a fictional account through the experiences of  inventor Cullen McNamara and teacher Della Wentworth who each spent six months working in exhibits there. Well researched descriptions of the grounds and events are accompanied by actual photos and drawings from the fair. Although the story itself is fictional, it is filled with historical facts.

“It Happened at the Fair” is somewhat different than the other books I have read by this author. It is related from both Cullen and Della’s point of view. In fact this book seems to be written more from Cullen’s viewpoint than Della’s. I have always enjoyed the humor in DeAnne’s novels. Although there is a certain amount of humor in this one, it has a more somber note as a whole which is certainly understandable due to the circumstances of the primary characters. Cullen is a farmer who is allergic to nearly everything he comes in contact with during planting and harvest seasons. On top of that he is quickly losing his hearing. His father has gambled nearly everything to send Cullen to exhibit his automatic sprinkler system at the fair so Cullen is under pressure to succeed. When he continues to lose potential customers due to his inability to hear what they say in the extremely loud exhibit hall, he convinces Della, a teacher of deaf children, to help him learn to read lips as they explore the fair together after their work hours. Cullen soon finds himself attracted to Della despite a fiance waiting back home. With such an uncertain future what is a man to do?

Despite the difference in “It Happened at the Fair” and the author’s previous books, I did enjoy it. After all, variety is the spice of life and I for one would become quickly bored if each author’s books were always the same. I feel that this particular book illustrates Gist’s research skill and her ability to pen a more serious novel. I still love her light-hearted romances and hope she will offer more of them in the future but she has proven herself to be an author of many talents. I hope you will give “It Happened at the Fair” a try.

This book was provided for review by LitFuse Publicity.


It Happened at the FairA 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?

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Deeanne GistDeeanne Gist—known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee—has rocketed up bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very fun, very original historicals. She has received numerous RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, and rave reviews. Deeanne has a background in education and journalism and a degree from Texas A&M. She has written for “People,” “Parents,” and “Parenting.” She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and has four grown children. She has a very active online community on her website at