Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I Wrote a Christmas Ghost Story

By Nancy Bilyeau

I'm excited to share the news with you that I've written a novella titled The Ghost of Madison Avenue. It's set in Old New York, 1912, a mystery story intertwined with a love story.

Much of the novella takes place at J. P. Morgan's Library, at Madison and 36th Street, today one of my favorite haunts (so to speak!) in New York City. In 1912, it was not a museum--it was where financier Morgan spent much of his time, as did his brilliant head librarian, Belle da Costa Greene. I was definitely inspired to write this novella (at 108 pages, it's not a full length novel) by my longtime love of the Morgan.

Another motivation was to give my readers a book in time for Christmas. Last year I published The Blue in early December. My next full-length book, Dreamland, will be published by Endeavour Quill on January 16, 2020.

The Ghost of Madison Avenue is coming out in ebook and in paperback now, meaning it's a perfect holiday gift! Order HERE.

But one of my other chief motivations was to tell the story of an Irish American family. My main character, Helen O'Neill, is a young widow with certain gifts that she herself doesn't understand. I've dedicated this novella to my mother, maiden name Mary Elizabeth O'Neill. The Irish experience in New York City is a rich, textured, dramatic one. It was wonderful to write about it!

The library in J.P. Morgan's private domain, now the Morgan Library & Museum, open to the public. Courtesy of the Morgan Media Department.

The book's description:

A Christmas Novella in Old New York

In this compelling and poignant story, 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.

Here are two amazing historic photos, courtesy of the Morgan:

The North Room of J. Pierpont Morgan's Library, after 1923, occupied by Belle da Costa Greene and other librarians. . Credit: The Morgan Library & Museum, Photography by Tebbs & Knell.

The family home of J. P. Morgan at the corner of Madison Avenue and 36th Street. The museum can be seen halfway down the block. The house was later demolished, and the present museum can be found there. Credit: Morgan Media Dept.

The Ghost of Madison Avenue is available in the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia, and other markets. 

"The Gilded Age splendors of the Morgan Library come to life in this wonderful, warm-hearted tale of Christmases past, present, and future. Bilyeau weaves a wealth of gorgeous period detail into her ghost story of old New York, delivering genuine chills, family drama, and poignant romance with equal skill. A gorgeous holiday treat!"
—Mariah Fredericks, author of Death of a New American

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