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Publishers WeeklyWhile Cameron depicts with accuracy and sympathy the very real plight of women in 19th century America, uneven pacing and character development weaken this debut. When the World's Fair arrives in Chicago in 1893, women are sexually repressed and strictly ruled by their husbands. Newlywed Dora Chambers goes to great lengths to keep her banker husband, Charles, happy, even ingratiating herself with a dreadful group of snotty socialites who oversee the decorum of the fair's more exotic exhibits, like the popular Egyptian belly dancing attraction. Dora is given the task of toning down the Egyptian dancers' act, strikes up a friendship with the troupe, and together they appease the outraged female population by modifying their dance and adding scarves to disguise their curves. Dora's husband, impatient with her virginal fear of the marriage bed, quickly resumes relations with his powerful and rich mistress, a widow who despises Dora and knows the secrets that can ruin Dora's social standing. Despite the intriguing subject and historical period, Dora's startling transformation under the tutelage of the dance troupe feels unreal, even though the story is based on fact.
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