Hello friends! It’s great to be back!!! Seriously, I’ve missed blogging (which is totally good thing – it would have been awkward if I didn’t want to come back). As y’all know, my July looked a bit different than I had planned and instead of reading a whole stack of books, I only got to a few and was planning for an adventure instead. Which starts next week! Eeeee! Anyway, this month might be a bit of hit and miss (I officially leave Texas next week and then am headed to Nashville later this month for CFRR and such), but I’ll still be around, so let’s get this review started!
“In the pages of a book, a person could become immortal.”
Stories of artists always fascinate me because I can relate to the joy that comes with creating and putting your heart out there for the world to see. Add it to a historical read? You won’t see me passing up the chance to read it.
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.
“It speaks to a rare but beautiful truth: that how, out of incomparable loss, some of the most brilliant art emerged.”
One of my favorite things about a novel is when I get lost in the world it takes place in. What a place for artists it was in New York before the turn on the century! Women coming into their own, artists looking to find a place in the world and the world ever so starting to change. I really enjoyed getting an inside look of the artist world and the famous drop ins (like one from Oscar Wilde). I also really enjoyed learning more about Callaway’s research and the women she based these characters off of.
The variety of characters was entertaining (and let’s just say I had some strong emotions about one or two of the characters!) and how fascinating it would have been to live with such talented family members! I thought Virginia’s journey was an honest one, even if it was hard to watch sometimes. The cards she was dealt weren’t the best, but she pressed on, stumbling along the way and was able to use that to create beautiful stories. There’s a lesson in that for all of us.
Certain pieces of the novel towards the end were a bit unexpected and not my favorite, but I applaud Callaway for doing something different. This is a promising debut and I look forward to more stories from Joy!
What’s a debut you’ve read this year?
(This was a summer pick for SheReads.org. Thank you to She Reads and Harper for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)