Sarah grew up in St Andrews Orphanage, then went to work in the Banning household--first as kitchen help and then as a maid. She has her sights set on bigger and better things. Her opportunity to begin her dream comes when she meets Lillie Wagner in a millinery shop where both women are admiring the same hat. Instead of giving her real name, she introduces herself as Serena Cuthbert, she invents a whole past based on whom she wants this new persona to be--someone on an equal with the high society of Chicago. Through Lillie's ability to introduce her into society she meets Brad Townsend and pins her hopes on marrying him.
Sarah is not the most likable main character, but in Simon Tewell, director of the orphanage, Olivia Newport has given us a glimpse into what's truly needed in Sarah's life as well as our own lives--the love of God, the eyes to see ourselves as God sees us. Sarah spent so much time inventing someone she thought she wanted to be, she lost sight of the reality that truly mattered. She was looking on outward appearances and seeing someone largely ignored in society. Her eyes were fixed on the wrong goal, as ours often can be. Sarah learns, slowly, what is truly of value, and in the meantime loses a very important friendship, loses her self-respect, and finds herself and finds what true love is all about.
The Invention of Sarah Cummings is not as entertaining as the other two books in this series, but there is a lot to be learned through Sarah's foibles. I give this book a solid four stars. It's still worth the time to read.