The Fifth Avenue Artists Society

Written by Joy Callaway
Review by Arleigh Johnson

In late 19th-century New York, Virginia Loftin is a writer from a large family of many talents. She and her siblings live among the elite society, though are outsiders due to their paltry connections and lack of wealth. Ginny, however, is not at all perturbed about her status, because she’s in love with her beloved friend and neighbor, Charlie, and plans a happy life as his wife. Charlie, however, ends up proposing to a wealthy cousin, leaving Ginny devastated and heartbroken. She reacts by putting her pen to paper, writing a novel parallel to her troubles.

To take her mind off her worries, her brother, Franklin, invites Ginny to a gathering on Fifth Avenue called the Artists Society. It is here that she discovers a world where men and women of talent mingle, share, and encourage one another. She also meets the handsome and mysterious John Hooper, who has a bad reputation, but seems genuinely interested in helping her get published. Life improves for all the siblings through the connections made at the Society, although Ginny has much trepidation regarding John’s increasingly insistent affections and the peculiar behavior of several friends. Charlie reappears in her life, and complicates matters further, leaving Ginny in a perpetual emotional upheaval. Her dream of becoming a recognized, published writer is always at the forefront of her mind, but her relationships with the two men and trouble within the family threaten her carefully laid plans.

A compulsive read, this novel is based on the author’s ancestors, and they form the foundation of the story. Most of the characters are well-fleshed, though there is one mystery that remains unsolved—as it did in the true story. This page-turning, emotional tale will intrigue readers looking for a story with star-crossed lovers.