An online marketing consultant, an avid reader of 400 + books a year. Professional reader, reviewer, and blogger. Enjoy ARCs and new releases.
A special thank you to Dutton and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Fiona Davis’s debut, THE DOLLHOUSE, indulging and intriguing-a classic of the renowned historical Barbizon Hotel, a hotel for women, later known as Barbizon 63. The boys called it "The Dollhouse", packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls.
From the Roaring 20s through the 1960s, there was no address more glamorous than New York’s “women only” Barbizon Hotel.
A combined charm school and dormitory, it would shelter a parade of yet-to-be-discovered damsels—Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen, Sylvia Plath, Ali MacGraw, and many more—nurture their ambitions, and leave some with broken hearts.
Attracting the single elegant, and stylish, the Barbizon young women were chasing their dreams: stardom, independence, or a husband.
The famed Barbizon hotel takes center stage with a present-day journalist, obsessed with the secrets of one of the Barbizon hotel’s oldest residents. Told in alternating chapters of 2016 and 1952, The Dollhouse is a coming-of-age story, mystery, historical, and love story.
Davis delivers a dazzling multi-generational historical fiction, symbolic of the cultural change as women began to come to New York City for professional opportunities, but still wanted a "safe retreat" that felt like the family home,located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
1952- Darby McLaughlin travels to New York from small town Ohio to enroll in secretarial school. Her father died, her mother remarried, and she is using her dad's insurance money to pay her way.
Darby wants to be able to support herself without a man. She learns of girls jumping to their death from the fourteenth floor. Does she really want to be here? She is told she is a Barbizon girl now.
Darby meets Stella Conover and he gals, with the Eileen Ford modeling agency. Stella is from Granite Falls, NC, a southern belle. She tries to play down her accent, since it makes her seem unsophisticated.
She soon meets Esme, a young maid who works at the hotel. As the two become friends, she draws her into a world (underbelly of drugs), the nightlife, and convinces her to work at a jazz night club.
Could Esme be a bad girl? Secrets. Esme refused to define herself as a hotel maid. Maybe Darby didn’t need to define herself as a boring secretary.
Flash forward to modern day-2016, Rose Lewin, a journalist, is living at the Barbizon, which now houses condos, and working on a story about the hotel’s earlier, more glamorous jazz age days. Her personal life is going down the tubes, and her lover goes back to his wife, and she is kicked out of her condo.
Back in the day, it was the place to stay if you were a single girl in New York City. Some women were even grandfathered in after it went condo. Is there a story here? What secrets does the hotel hold?
Delving into the life of Miss McLaughlin, Rose begins to uncover a conspiracy and mystery. A death of a Barbizon maid, Esme. Rose finds she can get lost in the research for the Barbizon story, a welcome distraction from her own troubles. She needed this story. A killer story.
A bygone era at the Barbizon in New York City--from secrets, shocking twists, a drug scandal, heroine rings, romance, identity switches, an accident, money, tragedy to crossing lines--mixed with glamour, glitz, and dreams. What happened on the terrace in 1952?
A group of elderly ladies who live in rent-controlled apartments, who've been there for years. One goes back as far as 1952. A tragic history. The woman in 4B was an enigma, living alone with a tiny dog in the same apartment year after year. How did she fill her time? Did she have a family or someone she could rely on?
From Darby and Rose, the author weaves a twisty story from the classic age reminiscent of exciting times. (always love the Palm Beach references). The parents took care of the bills until they were handed off to Prince Charming. Lots of competition.
Intriguing, mesmerizing, alluring, crossing over to the darker side, with desires, and scandal -as women try to make their place in an ever changing world.
Well-researched, rich in history and character, cleverly crafted, an engaging debut set in the lush world of New York’s glamour.
From privilege, tragedy, wealth, and the lure of the city. From the beautiful fashion, historic architecture, and style- one of the most exciting times in history. In the hotel’s heyday, from the 40's through the late 60's, it housed a roster of remarkable women in their not-yet-discovered years.
From the women's internal struggles; for the right career, the right guy, risks, and the perfect life— a constant companion to many of the girls who lived within the chic Barbizon’s cloistered walls.
Looking forward to more from this author. Love the stylish cover! I also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Tavia Gilbert, for an engaging performance.