Title: The Fifth Avenue Artists Society
Author: Joy Callaway
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Number of Pages: 384
How I Got It: SheReads Book Club Fall Selection
Format: paperback & Kindle
An enthralling Edith Wharton-meets-Little Women debut about a family of four artistic sisters on the outskirts of Gilded Age New York high society that centers on the boldest—an aspiring writer caught between the boy next door and a mysterious novelist who inducts her into Manhattan’s most elite artistic salon. The Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin knows what she wants most: to become a celebrated novelist despite her gender, and to marry Charlie, her best friend, neighbor and first love. Yet when Charlie proposes to another woman, Ginny is devastated; shutting out her family, she holes up and obsessively rewrites how their story should have gone. Though Ginny works with newfound intensity, success eludes her—until she attends a salon hosted in her brother’s handsome author friend John’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Amongst painters, musicians, actors, and writers, Ginny returns to herself, even blooming under John’s increasingly romantic attentions. Just as she has begun to forget Charlie, however, he throws himself back into her path, and Ginny finds herself torn between a lifetime’s worth of complicated feelings and a budding relationship with a man who seems almost too good to be true. The brightest lights cast the darkest shadows, and as Ginny tentatively navigates the Society’s world, she begins to suspect all is not as it seems in New York’s dazzling “Gay Nineties” scene. When a close friend is found dead in John’s mansion, Ginny must delve into her beloved salon’s secrets to discover her true feelings about art, family, and love.
I love the idea of artists' salons and was instantly interested when I read the description of this book. The main character, Virginia "Ginny" Loftin" is easy to love, since she loves to write. The rest of her family had me thinking of Little Women with each of their personalities. When Ginny's love proposes to someone else and the true reasons are revealed, it is frustrating to read only because everyone has been at the heart of a double standard before. But Ginny isn't giving up that easy! She pursues her writing and finds a few helpers and saboteurs along the way. There is also a dark understory that makes this novel so much more than a story about a persistent female writer of a certain time. Joy Callaway is able to tie gender roles, societal standards, sexual proclivities and orientations, romantic interests, and artistic endeavors into a truly wonderful debut novel.
***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***