The Invention of Sarah Cummings

Written by Olivia Newport

This engaging, lively inspirational tells the story of Sarah Cummings, obliged to work as a maid after being orphaned in her teens but determined to climb higher in Chicago society. The path she chooses is deception; she uses her dressmaking skills and her mistress’s castoffs to recreate herself as Serena Cuthbert, society beauty.

Part of a series set on Chicago’s wealthy Prairie Avenue in the late 1800s, this novel has elements of romance and spiritual growth but does not over-emphasize either. Newport sketches the tale of a young woman who takes a wrong turn in using her gifts to advance herself with subtlety and wry humor, leaving the reader to draw conclusions without preaching. Despite moments when the characters appear to be speaking 21st-century English rather than 19th-century, the Chicago setting, although lightly drawn, is believable and the characters interesting.

Altogether a pleasant, fast read that will delight readers looking for an uplifting story, even if they do not usually read Christian fiction.