What fascinates me is how author Laura Marx Fitzgerald can write such compelling books and interest me in art at the same time. I thought Blue Balliett did a fairly good job merging art and plot in her books Chasing Vermeer, etc.
Laura Marx Fitzgerald takes it to another level.
I enjoyed Under the Egg, Fitzgerald’s first book. I loved The Gallery, her second book.
Martha can’t help herself. She gets expelled from the catholic school she was attending. So her mother makes her a scullery maid in the house in which she works.
Martha finds herself drawn into the drama of the big house – Mr. Sewell’s overwhelming personality; his recluse wife; and a questionable footman. And the art – or lack of it. Martha finds the empty walls disconcerting – where have all the paintings gone?
Turns out the recluse Miss Rose – oops, Mrs. Sewell – has gathered all but a few paintings in her room. Every once in awhile, she sends new paintings downstairs with Martha’s mother to the mostly empty gallery.
Martha struggles to understand the paintings, and finds a helpful teacher in Alphonso, the almost-silent footman. Each new change sends Martha on chase to figure out its meaning.
Finally, Martha figures it out and plans an escape. Nothing turns out as planned – of course. But that is not the end of the story.
The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald – highly recommended for ages 10 and up.