“Fair Play” by Deeanne Gist is a novel that is set in the late 1800’s during the Chicago World’s Fair. Dr. Billy Jack Tate has graduated from medical school at the top of her class and has decided to set up her practice in Chicago. However, since women are not seen as being good in occupations usually reserved for men, her practice is not flourishing. In fact, she has only seen one patient and that was a house call. She is supposed to give a talk in front of a women’s rights group in the Women’s Exhibition hall, but is late the hall is full. She is unable to convince the guards that she is, in fact, a participant in the program, so she decides to find her own way into the building. As she slithers through a window in the lower level, a security guard finds her in a compromising predicament. She is caught in the window unable to move forward or backward. He helps her enter and escorts her to the hall.
Hunter Scott is a Texas Ranger who aspires to being a Captain in the Rangers has taken a leave to become a guard at the Columbian Exhibition. He is then assigned to the Women’s Pavilion and comes to care for Dr. Tate.
Together, they decide to help the ragged children living in the squalor of the West End of Chicago, where homes are sometimes cardboard shacks and hygiene is non-existent. The children are on the streets at a young age and always courting trouble with the law.
This novel gives a good look at the end of the 19th century and exposes the disparity of class and income that pervades the American scene in cities. Chicago is a melting pot for the Midwest and the destination of the various nationalities that have come to call America home. The banter and friendship between Hunter and Billy Jack is fun to read as their road to love comes softly and sweetly.
I recommend this book as a genuinely good look at our country at the turn of the century. Although a fictional work, I believe that the research done for this novel makes it very convincing and believable.
I was sent this novel by Revell Publishers in return for my honest review.