The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow
Avenue of Dreams
by Olivia Newport
The whole world is coming to Chicago.
Charlotte’s whole world is coming down all around her.
While the rest of Chicago seems fixated on the enormous spectacle of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Charlotte Farrow’s attentions are only and entirely on one small boy—her boy—whom she has kept a secret from her wealthy employers for nearly a year.
When the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him to the opulent Banning home, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child’s fate. Can she face the truth of her past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life’s struggles determine her path?
This compelling story of courage, strength, and tender romance captures the tension between the glittering wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable.
top of the page
1. Charlotte struggles to believe she has the ability shape her own future. How much of this do you think was part of her time, when women had limited options, and how much is part of her character?
2. How are Charlotte’s responses to her fears similar or different to how you respond to your fears?
3. What do you think is the deepest value Charlotte holds, and how does it determine the theme of the book? How do your values determine the theme of your life?
4. Describe the strength Archie brings to Charlotte? Identify some people in your life who bring you strength.
5. Archie wants Charlotte to believe that love makes a difference, and hope is possible. What do you think is the link between love and hope in this story and in your own life?
6. What growth do you see in Sarah’s character? What factors do you think influence how an individual grows and changes?
7. Identify three turning points where the story might have been very different if Charlotte had chosen differently.
8. Archie and Emmaline have contrasting understandings of God’s will. Which do you identify with more? What is the most challenging part for you in discerning God’s will?
9. Choose your favorite character and share three words that describe the character and illustrate your choice with events in the story.
10. The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was a pivotal event for Chicago, the United States, and even the world. It introduced millions to emerging technologies, including electricity, and social issues such as women’s suffrage. Can you think of an event in recent history that had similar worldwide impact?
top of the page