A NYC Hotel for women in the 50s, a mysterious woman who wears a veil to hide her face, a tragic death? Fiona Davis's The Dollhouse has it all! Darby (the veiled woman) came to NYC in search of a career and a new start. What happened on Halloween night 1952? Rose Lewin is determined to find out, and take us along for a ride that includes a New York full of jazz clubs, spice shops, and the sordid history of The Barbizon Hotel for Women. As Rose's life implodes around her, she feels a kinship to Darby, and is eager to see her story told, even as Rose finds herself illegally squatting in Darby's apartment.
When Rose Lewin, a journalist, moves into her boyfriend's fancy condo building, she thinks she's got it made. But nightly, she hears the most beautiful, haunting jazz melody floating up from the open window below hers. She decides to investigate, and discovers that the building itself was, in the 1950's, a hotel for women - the Barbizon Hotel... The kind of place where secretaries lived on one floor, models on the next, etc., and all were governed by older ladies with books full of rules. Four of these ladies still reside in the building (thanks, rent control), and Rose is so intrigued, she decides to run a story on them. But their story takes her not to the prim and proper 1950's, but to seedy jazz clubs, heroin addicts, and yes, a murder at the Barbizon itself! I loved this book so much!! My highest recommendation!
"Rich both in twists and period detail, this tale of big-city ambition is impossible to put down."--PeopleFiona Davis's stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City's glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where in the 1950s a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side by side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon's glitzy past. When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren't: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn't belong--a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she's introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that's used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance. Over half a century later, the Barbizon's gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman's rent-controlled apartment. It's a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby's upstairs neighbor, to resist--not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose's obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.
About the Author
Fiona Davis was born in Canada and raised in New Jersey, Utah, and Texas. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After ten years, she changed careers, working as an editor and writer specializing in health, fitness, nutrition, dance, and theater. She's a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is based in New York City. She loves nothing more than hitting farmers' markets on weekends in search of the perfect tomato and traveling to foreign cities steeped in history, like London and Cartagena. The Dollhouse is her first novel.