- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Dutton; UK ed. edition (August 23, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1101984996
- ISBN-13: 978-1101984994
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 481 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dollhouse: A Novel Hardcover – August 23, 2016
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“Rich both in twists and period detail, this tale of big-city ambition is impossible to put down.”—People
“The Dollhouse is a thrilling peek through a window into another world—one that readers will savor for a long time.”—Associated Press
“An ode to old New York that will have you yelling for more seasons of Mad Men.”—New York Post
“Davis paints a scene of Darby’s 1950s glamour for her audience that’s a smart juxtaposition to Rose’s modern-age New York, jumping between time periods clearly with often elegant prose....Davis’s descriptive words are transporting....[A] poignant beach read.”—New York Daily News
“In her page-turning debut, Fiona Davis deftly weaves the storylines of two women living at the famed Barbizon hotel for women....Davis alternates the chapters between each woman until the twists and turns of their respective storylines ultimately weave together, upping the anticipation along the way.”—RealSimple
“This suspenseful novel about a woman who took a decidedly different path—and the journalist who wants to uncover her secrets—will quicken your pulse.”—InStyle
“Davis layers on relationships and intrigue, while building tension through her story structure....The pace quickens as the story hurtles to its surprising—but satisfying—end. Who said history had to be dull, anyway?”—BookPage
“Davis’s impeccably structured debut is equal parts mystery, tribute to midcentury New York City, and classic love story....Darby and Rose, in alternating chapters, weave intricate threads into twists and turns that ultimately bring them together; the result is good old-fashioned suspense.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Fiona Davis’s debut novel deftly blends the contemporary and midcentury storylines to form a wholly absorbing and entertaining read....Period fiction mingled with twists and turns that keep the reader engrossed until the very last page.”—Bookreporter.com
“Davis’s debut novel....[is] a lively one, tripping along at a sprightly clip.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Get ready for glitz, glamour, and a whole lot of sleuthing.”—Brit + Co
“Clever and full of twists....A story well told.”—New York Journal of Books
“Sensory and vivid....A zippy plot and [a] refreshing focus on the lives of women many would overlook.”—The Dallas Morning News
“Highly readable, The Dollhouse conjures up 1950s New York convincingly. In particular the now-vanished world of the Barbizon Hotel for Women, with its antiquated rules and intriguing array of female personalities and tragic fates, lives on in the pages of the novel in delectable detail....This is no mere ‘chick-lit,’ but feminist-inspired entertainment.”—Historical Novel Society
“Fans of Suzanne Rindell’s Three-Martini Lunch will enjoy this debut’s strong sense of time and place as the author brings a legendary New York building to life and populates it with realistic characters who find themselves in unusual situations.”—Library Journal
“Davis delivers a fast-paced, richly-imagined debut that's almost impossible to put down.”—Kathleen Tessaro, author of The Perfume Collector
“The ghosts of the famed NYC women's hotel come to life in The Dollhouse. Davis expertly weaves together the stories of several women who lived in the Barbizon during its heyday in the 1950s, and the broken-hearted journalist who decides to get the ‘scoop’ on a decades-old tragedy that happened in the building. A fun, page-turning mystery.”—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch
“Multigenerational and steeped in history, The Dollhouse is a story about women—from the clicking anxiety of Katie Gibbs's secretaries to the willowy cool of Eileen Ford's models, to honey-voiced hatcheck girls and glamorous eccentrics with lapdogs named Bird. Davis celebrates the women of New York's present and past—the ones who live boldly, independently, carving out lives on their own terms.”—Elizabeth Winder, author of Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953
“Two coming-of-age stories rolled into an ode to New York City and the young women—of past and present—who have tried to forge lives and careers there. Poetic, romantic, crushing, and soulful.”—Jules Moulin, author of Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes
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.
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Top customer reviews
In The Dollhouse: A Novel, I was caught up by the alternating storylines that swept back and forth in time. In the narrative voice of present day journalist, Rose Lewin, I felt for her situation as she waited expectantly for her lover of three years to come home from work, halfway expecting a marriage proposal. But instead, he told her he was going back to his ex-wife because of problems with his teenage daughter.
Then, almost without a second thought, he tells her a few days later that she has to move out. His family needs to move in.
I was stunned by her situation, since he had persuaded her to give up her apartment in the West Village.
But during her stay at the Barbizon condo, she had met an elderly woman on the fourth floor, the place where the long-term residents were allowed to stay after the building turned into condominiums. She was told the woman was named Miss McLaughlin. She always wore a hat and heavy veil.
Flashback to 1952, and a young woman named Darby McLaughlin found herself in an untenable situation. One partially due to being drawn into the world of Esme Castillo, a maid at the Barbizon who had befriended her when the potential models, whom Esme called “giraffes,” were pushing her around. Esme opened up possibilities for Darby, a part of New York she had never seen, a place with jazz clubs and interesting people. Darby had grown up in Ohio, and when faced with going back there, she hoped to find another way to stay in New York.
Rose is drawn into Darby’s story, but Miss McLaughlin has refused to talk to her. She decides to try again before leaving her apartment to stay with a friend, but instead, runs into Stella, another resident, who is watching Darby’s dog while she is away for a few weeks. She is in a situation, too, as she has to go to the hospital for tests and needs someone to watch the dog, Bird. She tells Rose just enough to pique her curiosity further.
Perfect, right? Somehow Rose finds herself watching Bird and bunking on Darby’s sofa. At work, she presents the story…and the video expert, Jason Wolf, is assigned to shoot film.
Can the two of them find out the mysterious story that someone has hinted at, involving a fall from one of the higher floors, a death, a badly scarred face? Who is Sam, the man with a mysterious book of spices, and an incredible ability to mix them? What happened on that roof on Halloween night? Why has Darby become a recluse?
By the time the final secrets are revealed, I did not want to let go of these characters…so intriguing, and so much a part of The Barbizon, which could also be another one of the characters. 5 stars.
In 2005 the Barbizon was gutted and rebuilt as condos. Fourteen elderly women, all long time residents, remained in the Barbizon after renovation thanks to rent control. In The Dollhouse, the secretive Darby is, after more than fifty years in residence, one of those who stays. Rose Lewin, an upstairs neighbor and a journalist whose personal and professional life is coming undone, becomes fascinated by the fourteen women. When she hears a hushed up death, possibly a murder, took place at the hotel during the fifties she becomes further intrigued by Darby who is rumored to have been involved.
Moving back and forth between 1952 and 2016, we get the personal stories of both women, the story of New York and of society's attitude toward women in general during the two very different times.
Most recent customer reviews
Just not good writing