Alternating between 1952 and 2016 in the Barbizon Hotel in New York City, the lives of four women are illuminated by ghosts of the past and future uncertainty.
Darby is a Midwesterner who moves to the city to attend secretarial school. Her first day in town she meets Stella who is a model. Darby also befriends Esme, who aspires to a singing career while fighting discrimination because of her Puerto Rican roots. Rose is intrigued by the women of Barbizon’s past and a tragedy that changes all of their lives.
I enjoy Historical Fiction because it creates a story that gives context to the time and place. As I was reading The Dollhouse, I enjoyed learning more about the Barbizon Hotel for Women, its famous residents (Liza Minnelli, Candice Bergen, and Grace Kelly among others), and the 14 women (aged 50 to 90) who still live there due to rent control arrangements. Their rents range from $113 to $424 per month – a bit lower than the $1 million asking price for a one-bedroom condo at the Barbizon.
Davis’ debut novel needs a bit of polishing, but it’s a fun read that illuminates 1950s New York City and the iconic Barbizon Hotel.