I'm thrilled to have The Gallery Blog Tour stopping by today...
by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
June 14, 2016
A riveting historical art mystery for fans of Chasing Vermeer andThe Westing Game, set in the Roaring Twenties!
It's 1929, and twelve-year-old Martha has no choice but to work as a maid in the New York City mansion of the wealthy Sewell family. But, despite the Gatsby-like parties and trimmings of success, she suspects something might be deeply wrong in the household—specifically with Rose Sewell, the formerly vivacious lady of the house who now refuses to leave her room. The other servants say Rose is crazy, but scrappy, strong-willed Martha thinks there’s more to the story—and that the paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain a hidden message detailing the truth. But in a house filled with secrets, nothing is quite what it seems, and no one is who they say. Can Martha follow the clues, decipher the code, and solve the mystery of what’s really going on with Rose Sewell?
Inspired by true events described in a fascinating author’s note,The Gallery is a 1920s caper told with humor and spunk that readers today will love.
* “This lively and inventive mystery successfully incorporates history, art, and literary classics…readers will certainly be swept up by Martha’s pluck and the mystery’s many layers.”—Booklist, starred review
“A solid, fast-moving mystery for historical fiction fans, with nods to art history and mythology.”—School Library Journal
“Offer this to fans of Blue Balliett who like sophisticated adventures.”—Publishers Weekly
“Fitzgerald’s interest in art and history inform this puzzle of a novel, with Jane Eyre, Sacco and Vanzetti, the dying art of vaudeville, chemistry, and the 1929 stock market crashes all playing roles.”—The Horn Book
*I received a copy of this book for review purposes
It’s 1929 and after being booted from school, 12 year old Martha must join her mother and work in the grand Sewell mansion as a maid. Mr. Sewell, a wealthy newspaper owner, appears charming and generous, but Martha knows something is wrong in the Sewell household. Mrs. Sewell, the once plucky and brave Rose Pritchard, refuses to leave her room, surrounding herself with her impressive art collection. But is Rose really crazy? Is she using her precious art to send Martha a message? Well, Martha is plucky and brave in her own right, and she’s determined to uncover the truth!
Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s The Gallery is a thoroughly thrilling middle-grade, bursting with mystery, history, art, and quirky characters. Spinning together both real-fact history and wildly fun imaginings, Fitzgerald offers young readers an unforgettable and entertaining reading experience.
Fast-paced, yet not lacking in details or world-building, The Gallery drew me in easily and had me excitingly turning pages. Martha’s moxie and determination are irresistible and contagious! The Gallery is full of quirky, eclectic, strange, and interesting characters that are a lot of fun to figure out. The author creates a fully believable and enthralling 1920’s NYC setting. With attention to details, accurate slang/vocabulary, and vivid descriptions of clothing, people, and pop culture, readers will feel transported. And the grand, immense Sewell mansion is the perfect setting for an equally grand mystery!
With gasp-worthy revelations, crazy schemes, and plenty of twists and turns, readers will have a blast solving the great Rose Sewell mystery alongside Martha! The authors use of art is especially clever and intriguing. And readers won’t see the explosive ending coming!
My final thoughts: Mystery, history, a charming setting, and engaging characters...The Gallery has it all and young readers will enjoy it greatly!
by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
My newest middle-grade book, The Gallery, focuses on eight real paintings that, put together, reveal a world of dark secrets to the book’s protagonist.
And here’s something that may surprise you:
Most of them? I’ve never seen in my life.
Not the Rembrandt. Not the Courbet. Not even one of the two Picassos.
Thanks to the magic of Google Images—and the technology initiatives of the world’s museums—these paintings are available to anyone with a Wi-Fi connection. And the detail is great enough that you could write a whole middle-grade novel parsing out their hidden meanings . . .
But three of the paintings I’ve been lucky enough to see in person. And whether it was the experience of seeing them or the stories I discovered behind them, I knew I wanted to include them in The Gallery.
One of these paintings is Bacchus, Caravaggio.
Like many people, my first immersive experience with art was on that rite-of-passage, the backpacking trip through Europe.
I encountered this, my favorite painting by Caravaggio, at the Uffizi in Florence. I had traipsed past countless gods and goddesses cursing and cavorting, Madonnas serenely gazing, baby Jesuses blessing, praying, even reading.
They were heavenly. And after a while, they all started running together.
Until I reached this Bacchus.
The painting depicts the god of wine as a flushed, alluring youth. And at first blush, he does seem godlike. He lures us in with a glass of wine and the very definition of a come-hither stare. His skin is glossy, smooth perfection, his eyes captivating.
But as I looked closer, not everything was so perfect. The fruit in the bowl before him was bruised and rotting. The sheet wound around him was rumpled. His fingernails were dirty.
In that picture, next to all those idealized divinities, there was an ugly reality that brought this figure back to earth. It reminded me that our “gods” are not always infallible. And that when people aspire to godlike adoration, there’s almost always a darker side waiting to be exposed – a theme that Martha, our protagonist, uncovers in our villain.
Laura Marx Fitzgerald studied art history at Harvard and Cambridge Universities. Her first book for young readers, Under the Egg, won the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association’s Middle Grade Book of the Year award. Laura lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
DON'T MISS ANY OF THE TOUR STOPS
· July 11th – The Young Folks
· The O.W.L. –
· Mundie Moms –