“The creative sisterhood of Little Women, the social scandal of Edith Wharton and the courtship mishaps of Jane Austen. . . . The Fifth Avenue Artists Society is delightful.” — New York Daily News
In a family of four artistic sisters on the outskirts of Gilded Age New York high society, the oldest—an aspiring writer—is caught between the boy next door and a mysterious novelist who inducts her into Manhattan’s most elite artistic salon which has a seedy underbelly and secrets to hide.
The Bronx, 1891. Virginia Loftin, the boldest of four 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.
a story to read on a rainy afternoon
Deceptively complex, the story draws you in with the imagery and viability of the characters and the perspective of the narrator, Virginia (Ginny) Loftin, an aspiring writer herself. Although Ginny’s voice is beautifully crafted and presented, with a flair for description and detail, there’s a distinct lapse in her ability to truly see her siblings, particularly notable with her brother’s decisions and choices that came as a great surprise to everyone. Those moments, however, were small hiccups in the overall, and her ability to place readers into the scenes brought the feel of the time forward.
The Golden Age was known for its gilt and show, and Ginny’s narration provides both the outward displays and the behind the scenes struggles for those moments. Family relationships and the struggles to be seen and recognized as ‘something’ special, despite the curves and challenges that life throws, let alone the constrictions of society all bring the tale, and Ginny’s observations, into an intriguing and engaging story, cleverly mixing romance, coming of age, family and society in ways that bring the story to light.
So many elements brought this story to life for me, it’s a story to read on a rainy afternoon when escaping into another time is all you want.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.