Palmer Girl by Dawn Klinge is a historical romance about the daughter of a wealthy family who made flower arrangements for Marshall Field’s in Chicago during the late 1800s and the son of a Wisconsin farm family who sought to make a place for himself designing Field’s famous windows.
As a Chicagoland native, I just had to read this book. I grew up during when Field’s, as we called it, was still Marshall Field’s, not Macy’s. At Christmas, the State Street windows were turned into a story (still are, but not like they once were) and inside felt like walking into a palace. Especially the two-story tree at the center of the restaurant on the seventh floor.
But, Palmer Girl isn’t a Christmas Story. Elizabeth Nordeman is now an only child, her older brother having died in a fire that destroyed their home. While their house is being rebuilt, Elizabeth and her parents travel to Chicago to stay at the Palmer House Hotel while her father helps with the Colombian Exposition.
John Lewis grew up on a farm, but wanted to make it in the bit city. Marshall Field plucked him from the Art Institute to be the store’s designer. When Elizabeth offer her skills as a florist, John agrees. She doesn’t need the job, but enjoys the work and John enjoys her company.
The story itself was good, though slightly eclipsed by the setting. And that is all on me. I felt like I was walking with Elizabeth to the store or the exposition. A fan of history myself, I know how monumental the 1893 exposition was in Chicago. Coming just a few years after the great Chicago Fire (which burned down the original Palmer House, as the book points out), it provided an opportunity to rebuild from the ashes, as it were. Field’s is an historic building in the city and as economies change and its star dims, I thoroughly enjoyed going back to see it in it’s prime.
I love when novels prompt me to look up more of the history of the events surrounding them. I already knew a lot of the history, but now I want to look into Field’s window designers. Or even learn more about Mr. Ferris of the Ferris Wheel, especially since the one on Navy Pier is an iconic part of Chicago’s skyline. The Palmer House is another iconic feature in Chicago. I’ve walked by the doors countless times. It is currently in dire financial straights, something hard to know while reading of its owners in this book.
If you have a curiosity or passion for Chicago history, definitely pick up a copy of Palmer Girl. I thoroughly enjoyed reading of a place I know so well and it made me love the characters even more.
If you read this review before October 7, 2020,
visit my Spotlight Post on Palmer Girl for a giveaway opportunity.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from JustRead Publicity Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC guidelines.