Saturday , March 2 2024
A tale of the Columbian World Exposition in Chicago, 1893.

Book Review: Trapped on the Wheel by John Glavin

If you met the author today, you’d never know John Glavin lived in two worlds. Throughout Trapped on the Wheel, it is clear he lives and breathes the world of Chicago in 1893 in exquisite detail. His colorful novel blends fact and fiction with the drama and life we would see on a movie screen.

You’ll step into a period of Chicago life rarely portrayed so vividly. From the opening page, you accompany young Alessandra as she weighs the choices in her life, balancing tradition and a fierce sense of independence.

Trapped on the Wheel merges the exciting history of Chicago at the dawn of the 20th century and the tremendous adventure of the World’s Fair, and the high-society families whose names we still know today: Pullman, Porter-Palmer, Marshall Field, Armour, and Glessner. Alessandra carries the story, as we are swept up in her role in society. The excitement of the fair mirrors her own story and the many turns her own life could take.

The World’s Fair brought us the Ferris Wheel, giving people the first glimpse of the world beyond their neighborhood, even one as fine as Chicago’s Astor Street. Imaginations soar as people experience a flight to the moon, the Suez Canal, the Street of Cairo and the bright lights of the Algerian Village at night with snake charmers, harem girls and jugglers.

Glavin presents us with a gift of history, conveying the impact of the fair, a marvel for that time, with astonishing detail. These rich details and research make Trapped on the Wheel’s plot all the more endearing. It is a beautiful portrait of an era of opportunity, charm, innocence, and the independent spirit of Chicagoans.

About Helen Gallagher

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