There’s something wonderful, and incredibly strange, about reviewing books. Who am I to sit in judgement of another person’s art? I give so much flack to the churn and burn of many New York Times Bestselling authors that I forget these authors are people with an incredible gift.
A gift to create a world we may never inhabit physically, but somehow the author’s world makes us feel like we’re there.
We’re in the Hunger Games.
We’re at Hogwarts.
And, in The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway we’re in the Bronx at the turn of the century.
We barely crack open the cover and we’re dropped into the story of Virginia (Ginny) Loftin and her family living in genteel poverty outside of Manhattan in 1891.
Ginny wants to shatter stereotypes and become a well-respected novelist even though she’s female. She also wants to marry her lifelong neighbor and best friend Charlie. In the opening scenes of the book, Charlie proposes to another woman because his family needs her money.
And that one act changed the course of Ginny’s life. We see it unfold throughout the story as Ginny’s brother works incredibly hard to ensure he provides for his family, as Ginny pours herself into writing and expanding her horizons, and as decisions made in despair lead to heart-wrenching change for all the characters.
I enjoyed the surprising plot twists throughout The Fifth Avenue Artists Society. So many times, avid readers can see where a writer is taking us in a story. That’s totally fine and sometimes I need to know where I’m being led. But, it’s also really refreshing to have on idea what will happen in a story.
Is Franklin on the up and up? And what about this John?
Will she end up with Charlie? Do I want her to end up with Charlie?
Why was it SO HARD FOR WOMEN TO DO ANYTHING?
I literally had to read the entire book to get the complete answers. I never quite knew how the story would end, nor could I decide how I wanted it to end. As a single woman, I walked away empowered by Ginny. She loved her people so fiercely and still managed to realize her dreams.
Sometimes I think women forget we get to live our lives too. We don’t have to give away all of us to make our loved ones happy. Most of the time, being and doing what we’re created to be and do makes us the best version of ourselves. Ginny reminded me of who I am. And I’m so thankful.