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
ed out to me afterwards by another relation that come onto us onexpected shortly afterwards.
It seemed that Uncle Ezra and Aunt Tryphenia, after they went to Maine, moved into a sort of a new place, where it wuz dretful lonesome.
They lost every book they had, owin' to a axident on their journey, and the only book their nighest neighbor had wuz the life of Queen Isabelle.
[Illustration: They lost every book they had, owin' to a axident on their journey.]
And so Aunt Tryphenia for years wuz, as you may say, jest saturated with that book. And she named her two children, born durin' that time of saturation, Christopher Columbus and Isabelle. And I presoom if she had had another, she would have named it King Ferdinand. Though I hain't sure of this--you can't be postive certain of any such thing as this. Besides it might have been born a girl onbeknown to her.
But I know that she never washed them children with anything but Casteel soap, and she talked sights and sights about Spa
One of a series of humorous first-person novels purportedly by "Josiah Allen's Wife," Samantha, this one covers the Upstate New York couple's visit to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
It takes a while to get into Samantha's country dialect — and I'm not entirely certain I did figure out all of it — and she's pretty preachy, especially on the subjects of temperance and wimmen's, er, women's issues, and inclined to ramble. In fact, she doesn't even get to the fair till Chapter 10.
The story is even lighter on plot than "The Adventures of Uncle Jeremiah and Family at the Great Fair," and, despite funny bits here and there, less amusing overall. Although Holley includes lots of description of the fair itself, much of it reads as if she took it from "The Best Things to Be Seen at the World's Fair" or some other guidebook.
Chicago history buffs with an interest in the fair will likely want to read this for completism's sake, but there's not much here for anybody else. "Josiah Allen's Wife" published a slew of books and was apparently very popular in her day; perhaps her other volumes are more entertaining.
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