The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
A Novel

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The conspiracy isn’t convincing, and, worse than that, neither is her 1950s New York. Neither the Barbizon nor the spicy, mysterious nightlife outside it ever quite evoke the vivid portrait that Davis seems to have sought. Instead, her flat characters stay trapped in their flat landscape.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

"Rich both in twists and period detail, this tale of big-city ambition is impossible to put down." —People
 
Fiona Davis's stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City's glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where in the 1950's 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.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Fiona Davis

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Fiona Davis lives in New York City, and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The Dollhouse is her first novel.
Author Residence: New York City Author Image 1
 
Published August 23, 2016 by Dutton. 300 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance, Crime. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Dollhouse
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Below average
on May 30 2016

The conspiracy isn’t convincing, and, worse than that, neither is her 1950s New York. Neither the Barbizon nor the spicy, mysterious nightlife outside it ever quite evoke the vivid portrait that Davis seems to have sought. Instead, her flat characters stay trapped in their flat landscape.

Read Full Review of The Dollhouse: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Paul LaRosa on Aug 22 2016

Davis tells the story in functional prose that gets the job done, but that’s not a problem because Davis’ plot is the thing. It’s clever and full of twists and it’s very hard to put this novel down. It’s a simple idea but very well done, a story well told.

Read Full Review of The Dollhouse: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Reader Rating for The Dollhouse
86%

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