The Carousel Painter
Orphaned artist Carrington (Carrie) Brouwer intends to find a job and live independently, something “not done” in 1890 small-town Ohio society. Arriving on the doorstep of Augusta Galloway, her father’s former art student, she finds Augusta’s social-climbing mother very unwelcoming. Carrie uses this animosity to persuade Mr. Galloway to hire her in his carousel factory when there is a job opening as a painter of the carved animals, since it would mean independence. But the male factory workers, their wives, and especially Josef Kaestner, her supervisor, are displeased to have a woman worker thrust upon them. But will Josef’s hostility remain once he and Carrie begin developing feelings of attraction?
The details on how carousels were made are interesting, as are the problems of early women factory workers. Miller makes the right choice in using first-person point of view, but such passages as, “Shoulders slumped, I donned a mantle of rejection and returned to my duties” don’t ring true for Carrie’s voice. She overcomes the wives’ animosity rather patly. Readers must decide for themselves whether Carrie’s habit of giggling at inappropriate moments is annoying or endearing. Still, it’s an agreeable Christian romance, with an ending primed for a sequel.