The Gallery By Laura Marx Fitzgerald

An historical art mystery 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 the author’s note. The Gallery

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The late 1920s setting of this book was the shining star. I loved Fitzgerald’s details, especially those that are particularly clever in retrospect. In addition to history (1929 stock crash, Sacco and Vanzetti), there are a lot of art and mythology references.
The book is well-crafted and well-researched and serves as a great introduction for middle-grade readers; I think it will inspire readers to do outside research as well.

“Hasn’t the world always been full of monsters and lies? Isn’t it our place to fight them, to tell the truth, to rewrite the story?”

The Gallery has Jane Eyre vibes.
The main character, Martha, believes the woman of the house in which she works is being held captive in the attic. She shows a lot of moxie and ingenuity in trying to solve the mystery of the Zelda Fitzgerald-esque mistress. It’s a fun ride. 321 I listened to this on audio (mostly doing a puzzle) and honestly I'm not sure if I would have finished the book if I'd read it as an ebook. Because the book felt very slow - except the 1920's ending which felt rushed(, illogical) and yet very satisfying. 321 This is a book that I would have loved as a middle-grade reader, and it would be an excellent choice for any younger readers who enjoy historical fiction grounded in strong, detailed settings. I would have written a derivative fanfic of this book if I had read it when I was 10. It has everything you could possibly want: a plucky teenage heroine! A romantic, rich recluse! Very obvious references to the New York City of 1929 (including )! Messages through famous works of art! A Gatsby-style party during Prohibition! While the story of Proserpina may feel like a slightly tired plot device to me, it will open up a whole world of playful metaphors for younger readers, and you can feel how fun this book is through every page.

I also enjoyed the Jane Eyre references, because I think Jane Eyre is a terrible novel (sorry) and I think this was better. A better , a better everything. I'm into it. 321 So.....while I liked the mystery central to the book...I took issue with several things which influenced my overall opinion of just two stars.....

First off, AUTHORS! DON'T EVER SPOIL A CLASSIC NOVEL BY REVEALING ITS SECRETS! EVER!!!! Especially when that novel happens to be the greatest novel written in the English language: Jane Eyre. Why, why WHY, in a book for young people would you give that away? You've ruined their experience for that (in this case, very delicious!) novel when they pick it up in the future. Call me fussy, but I just think as a writer that is a cardinal rule you should never break :( It's terribly rude.

Second..I am confused as to what age this is written for? I thought it was middle grade, but after letting my 12 year old niece read it first and then reading it myself......I felt rather sheepish. It touches on topics-in particular, infidelity-that I personally feel should be left out for young readers. Though I realize, that's probably just me. There was also a few curse words and a lot of depiction of folks getting drunk. Again, this wouldn't faze older teens, but younger middle grade it might.

Third...the plot hole........
The whole story centers on Rose who is being drugged and held at her will on the 3rd floor by her rotten husband and, on Martha's attempts to free her. No one seems to suspect Mr. Sewell's evil intentions except Martha and Alphonse (he does nothing.) Rose's mother is too smitten with Mr. Sewell and rejects all Martha's warnings about what is really going on. There is also a body guard who is stationed at Rose's door 24/7. No one except Martha tries to help Rose and they all seem to believe Mr. Sewell's rubbish about Rose being mad. Suddenly, the Stock Market takes a plunge...and Mr. Sewell comes home to find all the staff suddenly siding with Rose. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? They all thought she was crazy. Did she tap on her door and say, Excuse me...The Stock Market crashed, my husband is penniless-would you please let me out like you could have done a hundred other times but didn't? Since I am telling you he is penniless, will you now believe me? We see nothing of this sudden change of heart of the staff. It totally didn't add up and was very anticlimactic.

Lastly, there were various typos in the book and it wasn't until about 100 pages in that anything of real interest even happened.

So, those are my gripes. The era was super interesting and the general plot line was clever, but the other issues dulled the shine of this novel. :( 321 YOU HAD ME AT THE WESTING GAME


Delightful! 321 I received this advanced readers copy at ALA Midwinter in Boston.

I adored this book! I don't read a lot of middle grade and was hesitant to pick The Gallery up. What made me give it a chance?

1. It's set in 1929 - a FUN time period to read about
2. It revolves around service - I love books about service, I find it fascinating
3. Martha is plucky - the way she forgets she is in service and can't talk to people the way she does
4. It didn't read like a middle grade book - what I mean by that is the author didn't dumb everything down. I honestly forgot I was reading a mg book!

I think readers who enjoy history, art and mystery will enjoy this book!
321 4.5 stars

Set in the late 1920’s, The Gallery is a fast-moving, highly entertaining read that is a combination of historical fiction and gothic mystery. Expelled from school at age 12, Martha goes to work in the Sewell mansion alongside her mother. The longer Martha works at the 5th Avenue mansion, the more Martha begins to suspect that everything is not as it seems at the Sewell household. Meanwhile, she discovers that paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain messages that someone is hoping Martha will decode. Fitzgerald did a lot of research and included tons of fun facts that provided an added benefit to the story. The mystery was clever, and I loved the ending.

While it is a children’s book, I think it will appeal to all ages; it certainly held my attention. Also, the cover is gorgeous and is worth inspecting. Cleverly, all sorts of clues can be found there too. I highly recommend The Gallery - it was a quick and fun read and a great way to start my 2017 reading.
321 Putting this audiobook on hold 8 chapters in.

I like the story, and I usually really like Jorjeana Marie's narration, but I find the broad, exaggerated accent she's doing for this 1920s book too distracting. I keep picturing a little girl playing dressup/make-believe imitating gangster/mob movies. :/ I guess I'll try to get ahold of the book eventually... 321 1928, Brooklyn. Martha is the daughter of a housekeeper who has started working in the home of newspaper magnate Mr. Sewell. Martha accompanies her mother only to get caught up in a mystery surrounding his wife, Rose. In her youth Rose was a charming party girl, but now she spends her days ranting and raving about paintings in a locked bedroom. What happened to Rose? Why is she obsessed with the paintings? And who is leaking stories about the Sewells- some of them untrue- to the tabloids?

From the first chapter we understand that Martha is a girl with modern ideas. She talks back to her teacher (a rather unforgiving nun), is suspicious of Mr. Sewell’s charm and intentions, and takes the side of woman most people have dismissed as mad. Her dialogue is saucy and her devotion to the truth is inspiring, which will speak to readers’ strong sense of justice. There is a cinematic quality to the narrative and Fitzgerald uses visual and historical details to paint a clear portrait of 1920s New York. There is glitz in the form of Sewell’s mansion , but there is also poverty- represented by Martha’s own crowded apartment and her mother’s dashed optimism. But perhaps the most impressive feat is how Fitzgerald deftly handles a narrative that is essentially about involuntary confinement and turns it into a caper. Rose’s story has parallels to the suffragette movement and is a grim reminder of the challenges women faced at the time. This historical caper feels fresh and exciting, thanks to a breezy writing style and excellent pacing.