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The Ghost of Madison Avenue

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A Christmas Novella in Old New York In this compelling and poignant story, bestselling author Nancy Bilyeau takes readers to 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 A Christmas Novella in Old New York In this compelling and poignant story, bestselling author Nancy Bilyeau takes readers to 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.


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A Christmas Novella in Old New York In this compelling and poignant story, bestselling author Nancy Bilyeau takes readers to 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 A Christmas Novella in Old New York In this compelling and poignant story, bestselling author Nancy Bilyeau takes readers to 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.

30 review for The Ghost of Madison Avenue

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Bilyeau

    A Ghost Story Touching the Heart I really enjoyed writing an eerie story, and with my longtime love of ghost stories like The Turn of the Screw and of course A Christmas Carol, it was pure pleasure to take a turn at this. I also adore the Morgan Museum and writing about this beautiful and in some ways mysterious place was also a delight. All the research for this book was fun! But for a novella I didn't expect to dive this deep into the main character, Helen O'Neill, and her family, the A Ghost Story Touching the Heart I really enjoyed writing an eerie story, and with my longtime love of ghost stories like The Turn of the Screw and of course A Christmas Carol, it was pure pleasure to take a turn at this. I also adore the Morgan Museum and writing about this beautiful and in some ways mysterious place was also a delight. All the research for this book was fun! But for a novella I didn't expect to dive this deep into the main character, Helen O'Neill, and her family, the Connollys, living in an Irish neighborhood in the Bronx in 1912. I got to know Helen and feel for her situation: always feeling like an outsider even within a loving family and losing the one person who accepted her just the way she is, her husband, the "Belfast Boy" Sean O'Neill. I can get emotional when i write but I don't cry, my novels aren't what you'd call weepers. This is the first time I did shed a tear when I wrote an ending for a book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Max Eastern

    What I think is most interesting about this book is that it's about a family, an Irish Amercan family living in the Bronx in 1912 when the Irish were a dominant group in NYC, and all the details are real. It feels like fully developed people in a 100 page book. The descriptions of the Morgan Library are excellent, coming from someone who has been there. The mystery around JP Morgan is very intriguing. But it's the characters of the Connolly family that make this story memorable. The marriage of What I think is most interesting about this book is that it's about a family, an Irish Amercan family living in the Bronx in 1912 when the Irish were a dominant group in NYC, and all the details are real. It feels like fully developed people in a 100 page book. The descriptions of the Morgan Library are excellent, coming from someone who has been there. The mystery around JP Morgan is very intriguing. But it's the characters of the Connolly family that make this story memorable. The marriage of the main character, Helen, and why she was mourning her Belfast-born husband all these years later, was real.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Chatlien

    Nancy Bilyeau has created a small gem of a Christmas ghost story that can be devoured in one sitting. In 1912, Helen, a grieving widow with uncanny gifts, lands the seemingly perfect job of conserving treasures at the Morgan Library. Yet, her time there fills her with unexplained dread that makes her wonder what’s going on beneath the surface. What awaits her is a transformative brush with the supernatural in the time-honored tradition of A Christmas Carol.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Interesting history and enjoyed the characters

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    A nice holiday book. Interesting story involving JP Morgan and his library set at Christmastime, 1912., with a little mystery and a touch of the supernatural.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Davida Chazan

    I don't usually read fantasy or ghost stories, but how could I resist something from Nancy Bilyeau written just for this season? This one is sure to be a winner for lovers of this genre, and you can find out why through my review here. https://tcl-bookreviews.com/2019/12/2...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    It is 1912 in New York City, and the young widow Helen O'Neill takes the train every morning from her apartment in the Bronx where she lives with her siblings to her work as an antique manuscript expert in the gorgeous library of J.P. Morgan. Unusually gifted, she keeps her grief of the loss of her husband hidden. One day she leaves the library and sees a beautiful young woman standing in only a light dress in the falling snow....and shortly after, comes to realize that the crusty old Morgan It is 1912 in New York City, and the young widow Helen O'Neill takes the train every morning from her apartment in the Bronx where she lives with her siblings to her work as an antique manuscript expert in the gorgeous library of J.P. Morgan. Unusually gifted, she keeps her grief of the loss of her husband hidden. One day she leaves the library and sees a beautiful young woman standing in only a light dress in the falling snow....and shortly after, comes to realize that the crusty old Morgan also has a painful secret. The only problem is that no one else can see the pale girl....an enchanting story of the newly rising immigrants and the wealthy of old New York which you can read as quickly as you'd watch a film of The Christmas Carol and will also leave you feeling lovely. Has the author reinvented the much adored annual Christmas novella? Curl up for an hour or so with a cup of something lovely and read The Ghost of Madison Avenue this season.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    A ghost story that touches the heart—that’s precisely what author Nancy Bilyeau has given us with this compelling novella! Helen O’Neill is a wonderful character, a widow still grieving for the husband she lost many years earlier, with talented hands that land her in the sumptuous library of J.P. Morgan. When she encounters an ethereal young woman on the streets of NY, it opens her mind and her heart to the impossible. I loved the family in this book, Helen’s brothers and sisters, as well as her A ghost story that touches the heart—that’s precisely what author Nancy Bilyeau has given us with this compelling novella! Helen O’Neill is a wonderful character, a widow still grieving for the husband she lost many years earlier, with talented hands that land her in the sumptuous library of J.P. Morgan. When she encounters an ethereal young woman on the streets of NY, it opens her mind and her heart to the impossible. I loved the family in this book, Helen’s brothers and sisters, as well as her niece Rose who is excited for Christmas. The author packs a lot of emotion, history, and a riveting story in a mere hundred pages! The setting of December 1912 in the heart of NYC gives the book a special ambience—somehow dark but beautiful at the same time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    gwendalyn _books_

    Can’t wait to to read this!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Debra Hill

    I really loved this story. It is so well written and just a pleasure to read. My book club likes to read a Christmas book in December so I picked up this novella. What a wonderful find! I loved the story, set in the Gilded Age in NYC, with its mixture of history and the otherworld. Once I started to read it, I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this novella.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The Gilded Age has always been a fascination for me and I consider New York City the center stage of the era for the most part. The era brings us impressive architecture and bigger than life people who inspired greatness. Morgan Library and the man who brought us its glory plays part in this glamorous and magical story. Bilyeau brings us a new tale of not only J.P. Morgan and is magnificent library and museum but what seems an other-worldly Irish-American lady, Helen O’ Neil. Helen is hired by The Gilded Age has always been a fascination for me and I consider New York City the center stage of the era for the most part. The era brings us impressive architecture and bigger than life people who inspired greatness. Morgan Library and the man who brought us its glory plays part in this glamorous and magical story. Bilyeau brings us a new tale of not only J.P. Morgan and is magnificent library and museum but what seems an other-worldly Irish-American lady, Helen O’ Neil. Helen is hired by stunning Belle da Costa Greene to conserve Morgan’s artifacts. Soon after Helen begins her work, strange things begin to happen and her life takes a turn that finds herself in a most unusual event-if you will. Bilyeau is one of my favorite writers and she has the talent to bring readers new content to the table. This story alone has deepened my fascination with the Gilded Age and wanting to know more about J.P. Morgan. My only problem with this story is that it ended and I wanted to read more about the characters lives. Bilyeau in my opinion is artistic with her writing. Having said I had a problem with the story ending, she ended the story with a feeling of rightness and the closeness of family. The Ghost of Madison Avenue is beautifully told, atmosphereic and rich with unique people and history. Stephanie Hopkins Layered Pages www.layeredpages.com

  12. 5 out of 5

    Michele Koop

    I thoroughly enjoyed this latest from Nancy Bilyeau. The novella really captures the beauty of the Morgan, which I’ve been to on numerous occasions. I totally got engrossed and read this in one sitting, wanting to know the mystery of the ghost, almost as much as the protagonist Helen. It’s great to also see real people like JP Morgan portrayed. There are a lot of interesting references to and visuals of great art, and Madison Avenue of 1912 really comes alive. It’s not like the Madison Avenue of I thoroughly enjoyed this latest from Nancy Bilyeau. The novella really captures the beauty of the Morgan, which I’ve been to on numerous occasions. I totally got engrossed and read this in one sitting, wanting to know the mystery of the ghost, almost as much as the protagonist Helen. It’s great to also see real people like JP Morgan portrayed. There are a lot of interesting references to and visuals of great art, and Madison Avenue of 1912 really comes alive. It’s not like the Madison Avenue of 2019 where I get my hair cut! Such a fun read! Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rene

    This is one of those little gems that I come across once in a while. It was such an enjoyable read that just pulled me along. I like to read ghost stories (not gory, scary ones!) as well as mysteries and this one was a bit of both. I liked everything about this book -- the characters, the story, the locale and, of course, the ghosts. Very satisfying ending. I plan to pick up her next book (Dreamland) in January. I am sure I will enjoy it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    As a fan of Nancy Bilyeau's previous works, as a New Yorker, and as an admirer of the Morgan Museum, this story pushed all my buttons. I was still smiling after I read the last page.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ginger Pollard

    [email protected] An enjoyable ghost story for Christmas (or any time of year) which takes place at the turn of the century, known as the Gilded Age. A short novella that can be read in one sitting. If this is your first Nancy Bilyeau book, it won't be your last. Her books are well written, well researched and take the reader to a different time. I've enjoyed all of them and highly recommend them.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maria Quintas

    A very interesting story that opened my mind to another time I thought I was going to read this book in one sitting and be done with it. But it didn’t work out that way, and I am thrilled about that! Almost from the first few pages I started seeking more info about the historical characters, the location, the current museum, the history of the library, the people involved directly and indirectly etc. Starting with the amazing true lives of Richard Greener and his daughter Belle Da Costa Greene A very interesting story that opened my mind to another time I thought I was going to read this book in one sitting and be done with it. But it didn’t work out that way, and I am thrilled about that! Almost from the first few pages I started seeking more info about the historical characters, the location, the current museum, the history of the library, the people involved directly and indirectly etc. Starting with the amazing true lives of Richard Greener and his daughter Belle Da Costa Greene (their accomplishments are unbelievable. True pioneers of their time!), J.P. Morgan, Amelia Sturges, the artwork of Harry Siddons Mowbray... I read articles, checked Wikipedia (my reading buddy) about a million times, searched for real photographs of these people, paintings and places. The best feature of reading an ebook is that all the other info is right there... waiting to be accessed. So I was reading a few pages and looking for info about a particular street address, a building, a person, .... The book itself was totally fun, intriguing and SATISFYING! And it opened a new world for me. I want to know more about the timeline, the history.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rosanne Lortz

    Helen O'Neill has a gift, a lightness and quickness about her hands that seems otherworldly--a great contrast to the heaviness in her heart over her lost husband. When her talent for restoring artifacts is observed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Helen is whisked away to work at J.P. Morgan's personal library. The ornate building with its precious manuscripts is awe-inspiring, but even more jaw-dropping is the mysterious young woman who keeps appearing on Madison Avenue outside. Wearing an Helen O'Neill has a gift, a lightness and quickness about her hands that seems otherworldly--a great contrast to the heaviness in her heart over her lost husband. When her talent for restoring artifacts is observed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Helen is whisked away to work at J.P. Morgan's personal library. The ornate building with its precious manuscripts is awe-inspiring, but even more jaw-dropping is the mysterious young woman who keeps appearing on Madison Avenue outside. Wearing an old-fashioned gown in the dead of winter, the girl seems invisible to everyone besides Helen. Who could she be? What connection does she have to J.P. Morgan? And what exactly is she wanting to communicate to Helen? This Christmas novella is technically a ghost story, but it's no more in the vein of "horror" than Dickens' Christmas Carol. Richly atmospheric, the story displays middle-aged Helen, with all her past sorrows and present concerns, in the bustling world of 1912 New York. This is the perfect novella for a short and satisfying holiday read. 

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gaye mack

    A Perfect Story for the Holiday Season Once again Nancy Bilyeau brings characters alive who give us a peek into history, this time taking us back to Christmas 1912 New York, through the eyes of Helen O'Neill. Helen, a young widow with an unusual gift, ends up working in JP Morgan's private library, a world away from her Irish roots. Unexpectedly, Helen discovers she and Morgan himself share a bond of help from the unseen world in transforming their individual grief for partners lost. Filled with A Perfect Story for the Holiday Season Once again Nancy Bilyeau brings characters alive who give us a peek into history, this time taking us back to Christmas 1912 New York, through the eyes of Helen O'Neill. Helen, a young widow with an unusual gift, ends up working in JP Morgan's private library, a world away from her Irish roots. Unexpectedly, Helen discovers she and Morgan himself share a bond of help from the unseen world in transforming their individual grief for partners lost. Filled with rich imagery surrounding the world of privilege against the emotional challenges and complexities of a close-knit Irish immigrant family, The Ghost of Madison Avenue is a wonderful read that warms the heart, this holiday season and any other time of the year.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janet DeCastro

    FICTION, MYSTERY Helen O'Neill, a young Irish American widow living with her family in the Bronx has been offered the job of a lifetime. Stolen away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to work at J.P. Morgan's private library, for her skilled hands, in "reading" what restorations are needed on artifacts. But with her Irish background the child Helen received hints from her mother that she had a gift - from the faeries - to hide it so that she was never exploited. The story occurs at Christmas FICTION, MYSTERY Helen O'Neill, a young Irish American widow living with her family in the Bronx has been offered the job of a lifetime. Stolen away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to work at J.P. Morgan's private library, for her skilled hands, in "reading" what restorations are needed on artifacts. But with her Irish background the child Helen received hints from her mother that she had a gift - from the faeries - to hide it so that she was never exploited. The story occurs at Christmas time in the early 1900's and feels very Dickensian in it's telling. Well developed novella, that I couldn't put down!! Christianity and Paganism collide in a story of love and self acceptance.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marie Parsons

    I read Nancy Bilyeau's Joanna Stafford trilogy a few years ago and enjoyed it so much I anticipated enjoying this novella. I was not disappointed. The world-buildng of 1912 Manhattan, its trains, its neighborhoods, the then newly-opening Morgan Library--marvelously done. Characters are complex and very real: Helen, the protagonist, compares herself less than favorably to Bella, so endearingly. The widowed Helena could be an extraordinary woman, but is instead told to hide what could make her I read Nancy Bilyeau's Joanna Stafford trilogy a few years ago and enjoyed it so much I anticipated enjoying this novella. I was not disappointed. The world-buildng of 1912 Manhattan, its trains, its neighborhoods, the then newly-opening Morgan Library--marvelously done. Characters are complex and very real: Helen, the protagonist, compares herself less than favorably to Bella, so endearingly. The widowed Helena could be an extraordinary woman, but is instead told to hide what could make her extraordinary. That very quality forms a centerpiece of the plot. The entire story was so intriguing that I kept turning pages to the end. Ms Bilyeau makes wonderful use of her research and her crafting of setting and place. One can not only smell the Connolly family dinners, but taste them as well. One can hear a bit of Irish old-country lilt in the voices. This is a wonderful story about family, loss, waking up each day after, and more than one kind of "What If?" If you think you know "ghost stories" you may be richly rewarded to find a new twist on that theme. Highly more than greatly recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan Wands

    Nancy Bilyeau’s novella, The Ghost of Madison Ave, is delightful story which takes place in the Morgan library in New York City at the turn of the century. Historically fascinating and meticulously researched, the book tells the story of a young woman working in the private library of J.P. Morgan. Although I read it in one sitting, the story has stayed with me and I found myself going back to read passages. There is fascinating content not not only the library but living in New York City in the Nancy Bilyeau’s novella, The Ghost of Madison Ave, is delightful story which takes place in the Morgan library in New York City at the turn of the century. Historically fascinating and meticulously researched, the book tells the story of a young woman working in the private library of J.P. Morgan. Although I read it in one sitting, the story has stayed with me and I found myself going back to read passages. There is fascinating content not not only the library but living in New York City in the 1900s as a woman.

  22. 4 out of 5

    E

    Really liked the Gilded Age/ Morgan Library setting. Wish this had been a longer story in the telling, because there were a lot of moving parts. I would have liked to linger on the events of the later part of the story, though the flashback format does a good job of creating the suspenseful mood right away.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie Brown

    Absolutely loved following Helen O’Neill's story while she worked at JP Morgan's library . I found myself going back and forth to see what the area looks like now versus how it was in 1912. What a wonderful journey. I'm excited to begin The Blue and Dreamland. I've also enjoyed the Joanna Stafford trilogy as well.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary Bronson

    The Christmas Ghost I thought this was such a great novella. I loved the characters and plot of the story. Once I got started it was hard to put down. Reading the author's note it was interesting to read that Helen's employer J.P. Morgan was a real person. Now I want to learn more about him.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nita

    Beautifully written story of love, grief and family. I love historical fiction and Nancy Bilyeau brings all her hard work of research to life in beautifully written story of The Gilded Age with a touch of The O'Neill on Tullyhouge! I love how the stories blend together and how the Ghost of Madison Avenue helps Helen find her way.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    A story about the Morgan Library.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    An intriguing tale Ms. Bilyeau's novella is a captivating read. She is skilled at immersing her fictional characters into well-researched historical setting, creating a believable, intriguing tale. I thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Ghost of Madison Avenue" and am looking forward to the upcoming release of "Dreamland." I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or stories with a spiritual element.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Woods

    Entrancing novella! I absolutely love Bilyeau's style of writing. This story set in 1912 New York City about a middle-aged widow who begins employment at J.P. Morgan's private library has a very creative plot. The descriptions of life in New York City and the famous Morgan library during this period of the Gilded Age are lifelike and brought this reader immediately into that era. I felt as if I were there as scenes are described through the eyes of the Irish Mrs. O'Neill even as she flashes back Entrancing novella! I absolutely love Bilyeau's style of writing. This story set in 1912 New York City about a middle-aged widow who begins employment at J.P. Morgan's private library has a very creative plot. The descriptions of life in New York City and the famous Morgan library during this period of the Gilded Age are lifelike and brought this reader immediately into that era. I felt as if I were there as scenes are described through the eyes of the Irish Mrs. O'Neill even as she flashes back in her memories of her late husband Sean. The emotions rose within me as I could easily embrace her feelings of aging and loss as she struggles to continue a normal life with her immediate family. The pain becomes more prominent when she sees a young woman in spirit form outside the Morgan library, later within its walls, and seeks within herself as to the purpose of this sight as no one else sees what she does. The ending brought tears to my eyes, which is amazing to me as this is but a novella, not a long drawn out saga of events. I felt totally invested in the story by its end. And I usually spurn novellas as a reading choice feeling they don't have much impact on me. This is a first for me, and I am so glad I chose it now. Read in an afternoon and would honestly say one of the better books I have read. I highly recommend this deeply emotional story to readers. Historical fiction at its best and a novella to boot! Thank you, Ms. Bilyeau, for a beautiful story!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Kondelik

    This is a beautifully written Christmas ghost story, in the tradition of A Christmas Carol, set in 1912 New York, by Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Blue and Dreamland. Helen O'Neill, a widow in her thirties living with her Irish American family, the Connollys, in the Bronx, works as an art restorer at J.P. Morgan's library. Belle da Costa Greene, the librarian (an amazing woman in real life), hires her away from the Metropolitan Museum because of her incredible gift with her hands. Helen is a This is a beautifully written Christmas ghost story, in the tradition of A Christmas Carol, set in 1912 New York, by Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Blue and Dreamland. Helen O'Neill, a widow in her thirties living with her Irish American family, the Connollys, in the Bronx, works as an art restorer at J.P. Morgan's library. Belle da Costa Greene, the librarian (an amazing woman in real life), hires her away from the Metropolitan Museum because of her incredible gift with her hands. Helen is a deeply lonely woman, and hides her grief from her family. While walking outside the library on Madison Avenue, Helen sees a young women in old-fashioned clothes, much too light for the New York winter. But the girl vanishes whenever Helen tries to approach her. Only one other person besides Helen can see her: J.P. Morgan himself. Helen begins to believe the girl is a ghost. But why does she appear only to Helen and Morgan? Her search for the answer could cost Helen her job. The Ghost of Madison Avenue is a beautiful story, and deeply moving. I felt Helen's emotions as I was reading it. Bilyeau brings old New York to life and makes you feel as if you're there. I especially enjoyed the setting in the Morgan Library, because I love that place. I try to go there whenever I visit New York. This is a novella, which can be read in one sitting. I wish we could spend more time with these characters.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Doug Solter

    The Ghost of Madison Avenue is more than a simple ghost tale. And it's not your standard haunted-museum-look-behind-the-scary-door ghost story you've seen done a thousand times. No, the Ghost of Madison Avenue is a personal novella about loss and rebirth. A woman's struggle with her sanity set inside the personal museum of financial titan J.P. Morgan, one of the most influential men in the early 20th century. If you enjoy reading moving personal stories set among historical settings and The Ghost of Madison Avenue is more than a simple ghost tale. And it's not your standard haunted-museum-look-behind-the-scary-door ghost story you've seen done a thousand times. No, the Ghost of Madison Avenue is a personal novella about loss and rebirth. A woman's struggle with her sanity set inside the personal museum of financial titan J.P. Morgan, one of the most influential men in the early 20th century. If you enjoy reading moving personal stories set among historical settings and people...then you will enjoy this book.

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