Samantha at the World's Fair

by Marietta Holley

Assuming her favorite role, that of Samantha Allen, Marietta Holley has employed her leisurely, homespun style, liberally accented with droll practicality, soapbox moralization, quaint aphorisms, and an abundance of hilarious malapropisms in creating this mammoth novel of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. The first nine chapters ramble on interminably, filled with the trivialities of home life in Jonesville, New York, and Miss Holley's favorite causes--women's suffrage, temperance, and politics--with hardly a mention of Chicago or the fair. Then, when the reader is least expecting it, she tackles the Exposition with an enthusiasm and precision that carry the story through 694 pages. She describes buildings, grounds, exhibits, and events in minute detail, adding her own interpretations, often rambling from the theme for several pages before continuing on with her topic and frequently assuming the role of crusader for one or another of her causes. But in spite of its shortcomings Samantha at the World's Fair is one of the most accurate and detailed fictional accounts of the Columbian Exposition ever written. --Chautauquan, 3/1894


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