Carousels are places of beauty, fun, childhood delight–and sometimes romance. So when I picked up The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller I expected a sweet gentle love story with lots of wholesome fun. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this story about a young woman who becomes the first female worker at a carousel plant also contains a good deal of dramatic tension. Carrington Brouwer, recently orphaned, arrives in Ohio hoping to make a fresh start with the help of a friend she met in Paris. Carrington is not one to live on charity, however, and she uses her background as an artist to obtain employment at the local carousel factory–much to the dismay of the local factory workers and their wives. Carrington is the first woman to work at the factory which makes the men uncomfortable and surly, and their wives downright hostile. She has the sympathy of the plant’s manager–and in fact their camaraderie soon turns into a budding romance. But she has another complication that makes her life difficult–she has to clear her name when she is suspected of stealing some expensive jewelry. I was kept on pins and needles throughout parts of this book, as I wondered whether Carrington would be able to overcome the challenges at her job, clear her name, find true love with her beau, and become accepted in her new town. There are many historical tidbits about the lives of women and carousel painters in the late 1800′s that add a lot of flavor to the story, but an even bigger attraction for me is the way the characters talked about their faith and tried to live it out in their daily lives.
By the way, the author of this marvelous story, Judy Miller, lives right here in Topeka! I hope many of you enjoy the writing of this local treasure. Be sure to check out her blog and if you would like to meet her in person someday sign up for her newsletter so that you’ll know when she is doing a book-signing in the area.