June 10, 2016

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society. Joy Callaway

book cover
Published:Harper
Date: May 31st 2016
Format: e-Arc
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via She Reads Network
Rating:
4 stars                      Add to Goodreads
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.

My thoughts banner


The Fifth Avenue Artists Society depicts life at end of the nineteenth century - where it was difficult for women to break into a men oriented world in terms of the arts. Alevia  the musician of the family and to some extent Virginia - the writer,  question in themselves whether it is better to remain single than risk a marriage where art must take a back seat. Both are gifted and do not want to see it lost.

As well as Alevia and Virginia there is Franklin their brother an artist and Bess who is a maker of rather flamboyant hats. There mother lives with them and their father has died. Making ends meet is difficult.

Franklin is bringing home money that seems a little out of keeping with his work and is often away on business. He is in love with Lydia, who is the sister of Tom - another author who hangs out at the Society. Some things just feel not quite right  at the Society where many artists gather in the home of the Hoppers on Fifth Avenue to share their work. 
It seems idyllic but is it really? As the story unfolds we see it for what it really is.

The story is told from Virginia's point of view, so we really only see things through her eyes. The family goes through many trials and hardships. The bonds of love are severely challenged and one member of the family puts all the others livelihoods in jeopardy. While we have Virginia's viewpoint it is difficult not to take into account the feelings of the rest of the family. There is such a sense of loss and betrayal, such a price they all had to pay. 

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society is well written although a little slow paced in parts. I found the second half of the book was more intriguing and engaging as some twists and turns took place. 

This book is a recommendation from the Summer Book Club Selections   2016 at She Reads. You can read other thoughts and reviews there.
She Reads


21 comments:

  1. I enjoy this era but I'm a bit concerned about the pacing. Sounds like it ends up being a good read.

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    1. It was certainly what I would call different, Mary.

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  2. Nice review, Kathryn.

    I have been "eyeing" this book.

    It sounds good.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Elizabeth

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    1. Yes think this one would be a good match for you Elizabeth.

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  3. Great review as always I always love those complicated love triangle tropes.

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    1. Yes this was complicated for sure!

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  4. Complicated love situations not my scene but otherwise this sounds a good read.

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    Replies
    1. The love situation really wasn't a big part of the book in many ways.

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  5. Great review Kathryn. Times back then were difficult for women. A lot has changed.

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    Replies
    1. Thank goodness times are a changing.

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  6. Replies
    1. I guess sometimes a book does move slow and I get a bit impatient!

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  7. Love that cover, and your review makes me want to read this one, even though I seldom read historical fiction. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Interesting, I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I am not adverse, but my fav would be contemporary Laurel-Rain.

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  8. This sounds like an interesting book...and thanks for the heads up that it picks up in the second half!

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    1. I just about find most books are a bit of an uphill slog first half and a slide down the other side. Not all, but quite a few!

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  9. This sounds like a lovely, cozy kind of read!

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    Replies
    1. I guess, although not too cozy though.

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  10. This sounds like an interesting read and is one of my favorite time periods. I can definitely see where the pace would slow to a crawl with all the characters and details. I don't think this is the right read for me right now because I'm so distracted that I need reads that really grab hold and don't let up but I think it'll be a good one for when school starts back, it gets cooler and I get my brain back.

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  11. Thanks for sharing your review, this sounds like a good read!

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  12. I would love to spend time in this era and place via a good story. Sounds like this might be a good way to do so.

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