The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow is the second book in the Avenue of Dreams series by Olivia Newport. It is published by Revell (2013). This book examines the class and gender barriers in nineteenth-century Chicago. Set during the time of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Charlotte’s life changes while taking a ride on George Ferris’ wheel. At that moment, she decides to put her past behind and move forward with her life.

Charlotte is a maid at the home of Lucy Banning, who has just left on her honeymoon trip. The two met shortly after Charlotte had just given birth and left an unsafe husband, Lathan Landers. Wanting to help, Lucy found a woman to care for Henry, the baby, so Charlotte could be in service at the Banning home. Archie Shepard, the Banning Family coachman, is enchanted with the lovely, twenty year-old Charlotte. She cares for him as well, yet she knows it could never be, as she believes she is still legally married to Lathan.

As the story begins, the woman who has been caring for Henry has to leave the area and brings the baby back to Charlotte. Since her supporter, Lucy, is gone for the time being, Charlotte is afraid to reveal that the baby belongs to her. She makes up a story about some unknown person having left the baby in the backyard.

The family is very surprised, but they know their daughter Lucy. She has been involved with the local orphanage, so they don’t want to make any decisions about Henry until they hear from her. Also, another young servant girl, Sarah, recently came to the Banning home from the orphanage. Mr. Panard, head of the servants, appoints Sarah to be a nanny for the young child.

Meanwhile, Miss Emmaline Brewster, a distant relative of the Banning’s, comes from New Hampshire for an extended stay. She adores Henry and makes secret plans with Charlotte to take him back to New Hampshire. Since Charlotte is fearful Lathan will come looking for Henry, she helps Emmaline to escape with the baby. Emmaline has the means to provide for Henry and clearly loves him as if he were her own son.

When the family finds out Emmaline has left with the baby, they feel betrayed and are very upset. Charlotte is heartbroken. Archie encourages her to trust in the Lord and to believe that she can eventually get her baby back.

On her day off, she wanders to the World’s Fair, where on a previous outing with the family, she had spied her husband working. She hopes she can somehow be free of  him, since she was forced into the marriage by her parents in the first place. She finds Lathan Landers, who demands to know what she did with his jar of money before she left. He has no interest in the baby, and is with another woman he says he is engaged to.

Lathan insists Charlotte go up in the Ferris Wheel with him to discuss the matter. Against her better judgment, she complies, and tells him she never took the money. She suggests the woman he hired to clean must have taken it. He appears to be fine with her answer and makes it known he wants nothing more to do with her.

Charlotte realizes she needs God’s help if she is to become free of the fears of her past and honestly admit the truth about her son. She is encouraged to do what is right by her best friend Archie. He does some research and discovers that Charlotte’s marriage was never recorded. It is not legal, after all. They are both thrilled to discover this.  In the end, all turns out happily. Charlotte realizes that the Lord has turned things around and has given her a new found joy and hope in Him.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

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