Book review:The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway

27161195

  • ISBN: 9780062391612
  • ISBN 10: 0062391615
  • Imprint: Harper Paperbacks
  • On Sale: 05/31/2016
  • Pages: 384
  • List Price: 19.99 CAD
  • BISAC1: FICTION / Historical

About the Book

The Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin, the boldest of four artistic sisters in a family living in genteel poverty, knows what she wants most: to become a celebrated novelist despite her gender, and to marry Charlie, the boy next door and her first love.

When Charlie proposes instead to a woman from a wealthy family, Ginny is devastated; shutting out her family, she holes up and turns their story into fiction, obsessively rewriting a better ending. Though she works with newfound intensity, literary success eludes her—until she attends a salon hosted in her brother’s writer friend John Hopper’s Fifth Avenue mansion. Among painters, musicians, actors, and writers, Ginny returns to herself, even blooming under the handsome, enigmatic John’s increasingly romantic attentions.

Just as she and her siblings have become swept up in the society, though, Charlie throws himself back into her path, and Ginny learns that the salon’s bright lights may be obscuring some dark shadows. Torn between two worlds that aren’t quite as she’d imagined them, Ginny will realize how high the stakes are for her family, her writing, and her chance at love.

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24-200x300Meet the author:
Joy Callaway’s love of storytelling is a direct result of her parents’ insistence that she read books or write stories instead of watching TV. Her interest in family history was fostered by her relatives’ habit of recounting tales of ancestors’ lives. Joy is a full-time mom and writer. She formerly served as a marketing director for a wealth management company. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Public Relations from Marshall University and an M.M.C. in Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina. She resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband, John, and her children, Alevia and John.
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Connect with the author:  Website   Twitter   Facebook   Instagram
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REVIEW:
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My first impression upon reading this novel was that it resembled a stage play, with the characters and set changing  with each new chapter.  I felt like I was a “fly on the wall”, observing all the intimate details of the Loftin family as they came to grips with a series of events that could ultimately tear apart the family.
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Virginia (or Ginny) is an ambitious, passionate young writer who is intent on making a celebrated name for herself.  Her genteel family is living in severely reduced circumstances.  Her best friend and confidante Charlie is always there for her.  She dreams that together they can write and somehow provide for their families.  However, when Charlie suddenly  and unexpectedly marries another woman to improve his financial situation, Ginny’s world falls apart.  She seeks solace with fellow authors and artists at the home of another writer, John Hopper.  The world she so desperately seeks to satisfy her intellectual cravings inspire her.  She begins to make new friends and connections.  But things aren’t always as they seem.   Then Charlie re-enters the picture.
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I really enjoyed reading about the historical aspects of the 1890’s.   Any woman trying to change her circumstances needed a good deal of courage and fortitude to counteract prejudice against women and the unchangeable norms of society at the time.
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I found the first part of the book to be a bit slow, but that generally happens when there are so many characters to develop.  At the halfway point, things really started to “heat up” and I had a hard time putting the book down.  Anyone who enjoys reading about authors (both men and men) of the late 19th century will appreciate Joy Callaway’s novel.

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