Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Ghost of Madison Avenue

Nancy Bilyeau is one of the most talented and versatile of American writers writing today. I have enjoyed watching her career flourish ever since I devoured the Joanna Stafford trilogy, which told the tragic story of the dissolution of the English monasteries under Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. Nancy also writes for several periodicals on mostly historical topics, as readers of this blog know, since I link to her articles often. Nancy's novella The Ghost of Madison Avenue I found to be a fascinating cross between an Irish fairy-tale and an Edith Wharton short story. From the author's website:
In this compelling and poignant story, readers plunge into a mystery set in New York City’s Morgan Library in December 1912, when two very different people haunted by lost love come together in an unexpected way. 
Helen O’Neill, part of a tight-knit Irish-American family in the Bronx, is only too happy to report to work at the spectacular private library built on Madison Avenue by millionaire financier J. P. Morgan. The head librarian, the brilliant and beautiful Belle da Costa Greene, had hired Helen away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art after she witnessed Helen’s unusual talent with handling artifacts. 
Helen soon discovers the Morgan Library is a place like no other, with its secret staircases, magical manuscripts, and mysterious murals. But that’s nothing compared to a person Helen alone sees: a young woman standing on Madison Avenue, looking as if she were keeping watch. In learning the woman’s true link to the Morgan, Helen must face the pain of her own past. She finds herself with a second chance at happiness that could only happen on Christmas Eve—if she has the courage.
Helen is an endearing character who has suffered a life-altering loss. In spite of the love of her family and her engaging work in the Morgan Library, she cannot shake off her malaise. It takes a mystery in the Morgan Library, as well as a statue in the local Dominican monastery, to help her understand the gift of her life even amid sorrow and death.



Nancy Bilyeau said...

Thank you so much for this thoughtful review.

elena maria vidal said...

My pleasure, Nancy!