Fair Play

Written by Deeanne Gist
Review by Beth Turza

The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 is a great backdrop for the story of a man, a woman, and the orphan baby who brought them together. Billy Jack Tate worked hard to become a doctor during a time when women did not have careers. She accepts a position at the fair’s infirmary, where she treats Hunter, a security guard who is very opinionated regarding modern educated women with professions. Against their better interests, both are attracted to one another, but feel that it would never work out since Billy Jack is devoted to her career and Hunter is vocal about women’s place being in the home. They put aside their differences after they find an infant left in the Great Hall. Realizing that neither could take on the task of parenting, they set out to find a foundling home to entrust the care of the child. They find it at Hull House, where a devoted group of women educate the forgotten children of the poor working class.

Deeanne Gist did a great deal of research on the 1893 Chicago Fair, and fleshed out a more important story by combining the wonders of the fair and the needs of the surrounding poor neighborhoods. She reminded us of the difficulty that women faced during this period with education and careers. Hunter and Billy Jack came from very different backgrounds, but rather than focusing on them as a romantic couple, Gist brought them together for a bigger purpose, and then resolved the parts that mark a basis for romance and respect for individuality. I found the combination of actual period photographs at each chapter heading a wonderful way for the author to share her research and help me visualize the buildings and real people that helped tell this story along with her wonderful fictional characters. I highly recommend this book.