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The Dollhouse

The Dollhouse

4.0 17
by Fiona Davis

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"The Dollhouse. . . . That's what we boys like to call it. . . . The Barbizon Hotel for Women, packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls. Just like you."
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,


"The Dollhouse. . . . That's what we boys like to call it. . . . The Barbizon Hotel for Women, packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls. Just like you."
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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 05/09/2016
Davis’s impeccably structured debut is equal parts mystery, tribute to midcentury New York City, and classic love story. It showcases the intersection of two women’s lives at the famed Barbizon Hotel, whose notable residents included Joan Didion, Grace Kelly, and Sylvia Plath. In the present day, journalist Rose is kicked out of her upscale condo at the former hotel for women after her lover reunites with his wife. While doing research for an article on the grisly 1953 death of Barbizon maid Esme, she stays in the apartment of reclusive octogenarian tenant Darby. Darby, who has been a Barbizon resident for over 50 years, knew Esme and was connected to her demise. Rose’s investigation quickly becomes her obsession and refuge when her father becomes ill, her career implodes, and her hopes for a relationship with her married lover fade. “I need to know... how to start again,” Rose says as she digs to the bottom of the mystery of Esme’s death. 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. Through the two characters, Davis juxtaposes the elegance and dark side of a bygone era—its jazz, glamorous models, career-minded women, and nascent heroin market—with the crass, digitally obsessed, and cutthroat media world of today. What crosses the divide is the chance for disappointment and loss to give way to purpose and love. Agent: Stefanie Lieberman, Janklow & Nesbit. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"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

"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' 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

Kirkus Reviews
A debut novel about the renowned Barbizon Hotel and the generations of women who might have lived there.Darby McLaughlin is a plain girl from a small Ohio town. In 1952, she moves to New York to enroll in secretarial school. Her father has died, her mother remarried, and Darby, who doesn't expect much in the way of marriage prospects, would like to find a way to support herself. She moves into the Barbizon Hotel for Women, famed residence for luminaries such as Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, and others. By some administrative fluke, Darby is placed on a floor of aspiring models, among whom she doesn't exactly feel at home. She's lonely and struggling when she meets Esme, a young maid who works at the hotel. As the two become friends, Esme draws Darby into an underworld of jazz and drugs. She even convinces the shy Darby to perform at a nightclub. Darby's story is intertwined with another, set more than 50 years later. 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 days. Rose's personal life is disintegrating, but as it does, she delves deeper into her story, interviewing longtime residents and becoming obsessed with a certain "Miss McLaughlin" who lives in the apartment beneath her own. She begins to uncover a conspiracy of hidden identity, drug trafficking, and undercover police. This is Davis' debut novel, and it's a lively one, tripping along at a sprightly clip. But her story lacks emotional depth, and her characters never quite come alive. 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. Despite moments of liveliness, this period piece fails to ignite much warmth, let alone a spark.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***
Copyright © 2016 Fiona Davis

Chapter One

New York City, 2016

She’d forgotten the onions.

After all of the preparation, the lists, the running out of work early to finish shopping and buy everything she needed for their special dinner, Rose had forgotten a key risotto ingredient. She checked the pantry, but the basket was empty save for a few remnants of the papery outer layers.

Griff had raved about her risotto soon after they’d started dating, and she remembered how proud she’d been listing off the more surprising ingredients.

“The coconut milk is the secret to it,” she’d confided.

“Why coconut milk?” He sat back in the rickety chair she’d bought at the thrift store on Bleecker, his long arms and legs far too unwieldy for her small studio apartment.

“I find it makes the texture especially creamy.” She said it lightly, as she collected their plates, as if cooking was easy for her, just another thing she did well, rather than a panic-inducing race to the finish line. “I slowly add the chicken stock and coconut milk to the rice and spices until all the flavors have melded.”

“I like the way you say that. Melded. Say it again.”

She did so, the way she would on camera, her pitch slightly lower than her conversational voice, clear and sure.

Then he’d swept her up and made love to her on her bed with its tasteful handmade quilt. She’d stifled the impulse to sweep it to the side, so as not to have to send it to the dry cleaners tomorrow, and had instead surrendered to the enormity of him, all muscles and sinew, an athlete’s body even at forty-five.

She missed the simplicity and the heat of their life back then, before the angry ex-wife and the surly children punctured their cocoon of happiness. Before she’d given up her apartment and they’d moved into the Barbizon condo on the Upper East Side.

Of course, his ex-wife and children wouldn’t share her perspective. To them she was the interloper, taking up Griff ’s attention and love. She checked the clock on the oven. Almost six. If she was fast, she could run out to Gourmet Garage and pick up white onions before Griff got home from City Hall.

Her cell phone rang. Maddy again. The fourth call this hour.

“What, Maddy?” She tried to sound irritated, but laughed before Maddy could reply.

“I know, I know. You don’t have any time to talk to your best friend right now. You’re far too busy doing the dutiful housewife thing, right?”

“Yup. And you’re off to the Soapies?”

“Daytime Emmys, if you please. I wish you were coming, Ro. What shoes go with the Michael Kors? Nude or gold?” Maddy’s career as an actress had taken off since they’d met in college. Maddy had landed a contract role out of school on a daytime soap opera, and this was her first nomination.

Rose swallowed her guilt at not being by her friend’s side. “The nude, definitely. Text me a pic, okay?”

“Any idea what Griff ’s big news is yet?”

Rose smiled and leaned back on the kitchen counter. “Probably nothing so big, in the end,” she lied. “Maybe he’s been promoted again? Such an overachiever.”

“I don’t think so. Do the math: It’s been a year since his divorce was finalized, you’ve been living together for three months, and it’s time to set a date.”

“He has been acting weird lately. But what if I’m getting way ahead of myself?”

“Trust your gut.”

“My gut says something’s up. Even though sometimes it still feels like it’s early stages. I mean, we haven’t even furnished the apartment yet.”

The apartment she both loved and hated. Loved for its tall French casement windows, for its Wolf range and spacious closets. Loved for the air of promise it held in its baseboards and crown moldings and Bolivian rosewood floors.

But hated for its emptiness. She and Griff both worked too many hours during the week to take a real stab at furniture shopping, and weekends he went to his house in Litchfield with his kids, his wife off gallivanting with her other divorced friends. Ex-wife, she corrected.

So much work needed to be done to make it homey. The wallpaper in the smallest bedroom was covered in tiny climbing monkeys. Delightful as nursery wallpaper, but not at all right for Griff ’s teenaged daughters. The floorboards in the dining room were bare except for the ghost outline of the prior owner’s Oriental rug.

Rose often felt like a ghost herself on weekends, sitting in the window seat off the library, staring down at the traffic and pedestrians wandering in pairs below. The sounds of honking and laughter easily permeated their fifth-floor apartment, even when the windows were shut. The neighborhood, Sixty-Third Street just off of Lexington, lacked the character of her old West Village stomping ground, where the trees formed a canopy over the cobblestones. Up here the sidewalks were bare, the avenue crammed with gilded little shops selling white linen toddler dresses and antique maps of Paris.

Rose waited while Maddy grunted into her dress. “Jesus, this zipper is literally unreachable. I need another pair of hands.”

“Where’s Billy again?”

“Parent-teacher night. He and his ex are having dinner afterward to discuss school options for next year. And if I haven’t already mentioned it, I’m quite happy to have a Get Out of Jail Free card for that one.”

“I’d be there to dress you properly if I could, you know that.”

“Oh, don’t worry, honey, I know. I’ll text you a pic and you do the same once you get the ring.”

Rose hung up, laughing, and padded down the long hall to the master bedroom, where she slipped out of the sheath she’d worn that day. As usual, she’d overdressed. The rest of her barely legal colleagues at the media start-up, all younger by at least ten years, gravitated toward jeans and hoodies. She pulled on a pair of leggings and a soft cashmere V-neck, then touched up her lips in the mirror.

Griff liked to call her his pinup girl, an image she encouraged when they went out together with a shade of crimson lipstick that worked with her pale skin and dark, sleek bob. But lately she’d begun wondering if the color was garish for a woman in her mid-thirties. Like she was trying too hard.

Did a man wonder whether his face was too shiny, his hair curling unreasonably, or if his crow’s-feet had possibly deepened overnight? She couldn’t imagine Griff giving any of these things a second thought. He entered a room as an agent of change, a man who made the news. Not as the pleasant-featured girl who simply reported it. When she’d worked at the network, Rose wanted to be taken seriously and dressed the part even though her producer wanted plunging necklines. Quiet wardrobe choices aside, Rose was dismissed as eye candy by a big chunk of her core audience—some of whom also liked to tweet nasty comments about her breasts and legs. At least her new job kept her out of the limelight.

The sounds of a horn drifted up through the open bedroom window. Not a car horn, though. A low, mournful longing, followed by the rasp of a drum. She wasn’t sure who: Miles Davis was the only trumpet player she could name. Her father had liked to play Dave Brubeck records when she was young, and the memory brought a smile to her face. She’d download some Brubeck to her iPhone and play it when she visited her father this weekend. He’d like that. Or he’d throw the phone across the room. You never knew, these days.

She should get going, but the haunting melody pulled her toward the open window. She leaned on the windowsill, stuck her head out, and listened. The sound drifted up from the apartment below hers but stopped moments later, replaced by a tune sung by two women. One had an edgy alto, like Lucinda Williams. The other was sweet, high, and almost angelic. The juxtaposition of the voices was unbearably beautiful: pain and hope, mixed together. The song ended with what sounded like giggling, oddly enough.

Time to get moving. She needed onions.

The apartment phone rang. Hopefully, Griff was calling to say he was running late.

“Is my dad there?”

Rose still couldn’t tell his daughters’ voices apart. “Isabelle?”

“No, it’s Miranda.” The girl let out an impatient huff. “Is my dad there?”

Neither girl would say Rose’s name out loud. Maddening. Then again, they were young and their lives were difficult. Even though Griff and his wife had been separated for three years, divorced for one, Rose had become the touchstone for everything that had gone wrong between their parents. Maddy had lucked out, meeting a man whose kids were four and seven, magical ages when Maddy was simply an extra person to play with, to receive attention from, rather than a threat.

She brightened her tone. “Hi, Miranda. He’s not home from work yet. Did you try his cell?”

“Yeah. Went straight to voice mail. That’s why I’m calling here.” “Well, he must be in the subway. I’ll let him know you called.”

No good-bye, just a click followed by a dial tone. Maybe she’d leave the monkey wallpaper up after all.

If Griff was indeed on the subway, she didn’t have much time. Rose shouldered her bag and marched down the hallway, into the elevator.

After an interminable wait, the doors closed, only to open again one floor below.

A woman stepped forward, wearing white gloves and a beautiful darkblue straw hat with an ivory veil that obscured her eyes and nose. Her matching coat, far too warm for this time of year, flared out from a closely fitted waist. Only her tentative movements, as if the floor might give way beneath her ivory shoes at any time, and the lines around her mouth and down her neck, belied her advanced age. She clutched the leash of a small dog. Immediately, she turned around to face front. Rose’s bright greeting went unanswered.

The fourth floor. When Griff and Rose were looking at the building, the real estate broker had mentioned in hushed tones that a dozen or so tenants were “leftovers,” long-term residents of the Barbizon who began as paying guests back when it was a women-only hotel in the last century. Instead of being evicted after the building turned condo, they’d all been moved to rent-controlled apartments on the fourth floor.

The dog barked up at Rose and she leaned over and let him sniff her hand. The veiled lady didn’t move a centimeter. The other residents sometimes groused about the fourth-floor tenants, women who lived in valuable real estate without paying the thousands of dollars in monthly common charges that the rest of them did, but Rose felt otherwise. They were here first, and they fascinated her.

What had it been like, when the exclusive address housed hundreds of pretty young girls? Several had gone on to great fame: Grace Kelly, Sylvia Plath, Candice Bergen; the list went on and on.

“I’m Rose Lewin.” She couldn’t help herself. The woman clearly wanted to be left alone, but Rose’s inquisitive nature took over. “I’ve just moved in, a few months ago. I’m afraid we haven’t met.”

The woman turned, slowly, her lips pursed into a tight pink line. “Welcome.” Her voice warbled with age.

The elevator door finally opened and Rose waited while her mysterious neighbor maneuvered onto the marble floor of the lobby. She walked carefully, taking small, wobbly strides and keeping her shoulders and head ramrod straight. The dog, a terrier of some kind, trotted an uneven staccato rhythm across the floor, as if the coolness of the stone hurt his thimble-size feet. Rose lagged behind them.

The doorman gallantly swept open the heavy front door. “Miss McLaughlin, greetings. And how is Bird today?”

“Fine, thank you, Patrick.”

After they passed through, Patrick addressed Rose with a smile and a slight bow. “Miss Lewin. How are you this evening?”

“Fine, thanks. I’m off to the store, back in a moment.”

She was still getting used to having a doorman. There was no need to tell him why she was going out, or to make small talk about the weather. Her tendency to do so drove Griff nuts. To him, getting out of the lobby was a mere blip in a long, busy day.

The woman and her dog turned toward Park Avenue, and Rose headed over to Second. Although the store was mobbed, she picked up two onions and a bunch of white peonies and made it through the express aisle in record time.

Patrick was standing out on the sidewalk when she returned, hands behind his back, looking up at the new building being constructed across the street. His stomach stuck out from above his belt buckle and his gray hair lifted in the breeze. She stopped and looked up with him.

“How big is it going to be?” she asked.

“Too big.” He’d been working for the Barbizon since he’d arrived in America forty years ago, and she was fairly certain he played up his Irish accent to charm the ladies. “I was thinking about what it was like when our building was the tallest in the neighborhood. Can you imagine? I’ve seen a photo of it, towering above the brownstones. Now this monstrosity across the street is going to be double the size. We don’t stand a chance.”

“Everything’s tall these days,” Rose offered. “But that’s probably what they said when our building went up.” She’d admired its design the first time they’d come to view the apartment. It was solid, unusual. The building grew thinner at the top, like a brick-and-sandstone wedding cake, the terraces decorated with grand Moorish arches.

“Patrick, when did you start working here?”

He turned to face her, eyebrows raised in surprise. She gathered that few residents asked him personal questions. “Back in the seventies. Things were very different then.”

She liked the way things came out as tings. “Do you know many of the older residents?”

“The ladies? Of course. I know them all.”

“What about the woman who left a little while ago? The one with the dog.”

He smiled. “Miss McLaughlin. And Bird. Odd woman.”

A woman with buttery blond hair clopped toward them, carrying several packages. Patrick left Rose’s side and scuttled over to her. Rose checked her watch. She really should get upstairs, not stand around chatting, but Patrick quickly reappeared. “Can I get you a taxi, Miss Lewin?” “No, no.” She waved her hand in front of her. “I was hoping you could tell me more about Mrs. McLaughlin.”

Miss McLaughlin.” He was about four inches shorter than she was and he lifted his ruddy, round face to hers. “I don’t like to talk too much about the other residents, you know.”

Patrick loved to talk about the other tenants, but Rose put on a serious expression and nodded.

“She’s from way back, the fifties, that was when she first moved in. Came here to go to secretary school.”

“She seems like an interesting woman, the way she dresses and all.” “Not many friends in the building. Management can’t stand her. She kicked and screamed when they said she had to move from her apartment down to 4B, with the rest of the longtimers. Threatened to call her lawyer. But never did. In the end, I helped her pack up and move. She’s a retired lady, couldn’t afford proper movers, and I was happy to do it. She always remembers me at Christmas with a card and a small token.”

Apartment 4B was the one directly under theirs. The one with the music. “That was very kind of you, to help her move.”

“Terrible story, what happened to her.”

Leave it to Patrick to bury the lead. “What happened?” “There was a skirmish up on the terrace.”

“A skirmish?”

“Yes. I can’t say what happened exactly. She was up there with one of the maids. It was a hotel back then, not like today, employed a big staff. Anyway, the two girls got into a fight and the maid fell to her death.”

“Good Lord. That’s awful.”

“I know. I remember I talked to one of the older porters when I first came on the job. I noticed she always wore a veil, never saw her without it. I said, ‘Why does the woman always cover her face?’ He told me she can’t stand to be seen, ever since that day.”

“Why is that?”

A family of tourists interrupted them, asking the way to Bloomingdale’s. As if he knew Rose was on the edge of her seat, Patrick spent quite a while explaining the best route and recommending a decent bistro in the neighborhood. She really had to get upstairs. If they ended up ordering in dinner, the mood would be all wrong.

Rose was waiting for the elevator to descend from one of the high floors, when Patrick reappeared by her side.

“Anyway, like I was saying. Poor Miss McLaughlin. The old porter, you know, the one I mentioned I spoke with, he said she was going to secretarial school. She was one of the innocents that came from the boondocks, not knowing anything, and she got caught up in all kinds of trouble.”

“What kind?”

“That I couldn’t tell you.” He rubbed his temple. “But in the skirmish, as they called it, she was cut.”


He made a motion from the corner of his forehead down through the opposite eye. “Cut. With a knife.”

Her stomach turned.

“She was left disfigured, horribly scarred. Poor, poor Miss McLaughlin.” He closed his eyes. “Hasn’t once shown her face to the world again since.”

The elevator door opened and Rose stepped inside, suppressing a shudder.

She should have never asked.

Chapter Two

New York City, 1952

The woman behind the desk at the Barbizon Hotel for Women looked up in confusion. “McLaughlin? I’m afraid we don’t have anyone here by that name.”

“But I’m not here yet, I’ve just arrived.” Darby bit her lip. If only Mother had come with her, she wouldn’t be in this situation. If Mother had come, she’d be telling the clerk to go back and check her records, that she’d sent a letter off last month stating that Darby McLaughlin was arriving on the fifth of September and enclosing the three letters of recommendation. Then she’d turn to Darby and tell her to stop biting her lip.

She bit her lip harder and tasted blood.

The woman wore spectacles that made her eyes look unusually round, and Darby couldn’t help but widen hers in sympathy.

A group of five or six girls her age flounced through the lobby, and Darby could have sworn she heard one of them making a hooting noise. The lady behind the counter appeared not to have noticed.

“You’ve just arrived, you say?”

“Yes, I just arrived from Ohio today, and my mother, Mrs. Saunders, made the reservation ages ago. I’m to be here through June.”

The idea of getting back on a train and returning to Ohio was daunting. Grand Central Station had frightened her to bits, the hordes of people walking this way and that, knowing exactly where they were headed and why. She had stood close to the big clock and clutched her suitcase, trying to get her bearings as if she were standing on the deck of a giant ship. The floor even seemed to sway ever so slightly under her black patent leather pumps.

Then she spied the sign for taxis and hurled herself toward it, bumping into people and apologizing furiously. Before she had a moment to watch the city whizzing by in the cab, she was dropped off in front of the Barbizon Hotel and found herself standing in the cool, cavernous lobby. The dark wood of an intricately carved balcony loomed over three sides, offset by bright white walls. Lush palm plants stood guard against the columns.

All she wanted, after the overnight train ride, with its fancy dining car and linen tablecloths, was to go to her room and lie down for a moment. To collect herself from the onslaught of sensations. And now they said she didn’t even have a room.

She knew no one in the city, no one at all. The Barbizon Hotel for Women was her only hope.

The clerk returned from a back room, clutching a white piece of paper. “Saunders is the name it was filed under.”

She breathed out a sigh of relief. “Yes, that’s my stepfather. Mother took his name after she married him. But mine remained McLaughlin.” The owl-eyed woman threw Darby a largely indifferent look. “Well, I have Saunders here, miss. Do you want me to change it?” “Yes, please.”

“Good enough. Wait here and Mrs. Eustis will be with you shortly.” She had no sooner sat on the hard bench than the woman appeared.

She was what Darby’s mother would describe as horsey: a tall, solid woman with an aquiline profile, wearing a navy suit that sported a floppy fabric corsage. Darby stood and shook her hand.

“You look exhausted, Miss McLaughlin. I hope the trip wasn’t too arduous.”

“No, not at all. I quite enjoyed it,” lied Darby. “Trains are terrific.”

Mother had handed her a book titled The Art of Conversation at the train station, and she’d dutifully read through it because the cover promised a “fascinating new way to win poise, power, personality.” Make your rejoinders positive! it had decreed.

Mrs. Eustis gave a curt nod. “Come with me and I’ll show you to your room. You’re on the fifteenth floor, and I think you’ll find it quite accommodating.”

The elevator doors opened. Darby tried not to stare when a young girl in a uniform yanked open the interior gates for them to enter. Mrs. Eustis indicated for Darby to step inside. “Male visitors must be signed in and are only allowed in the public lounges. The safety of our girls comes first.” The elevator girl rolled her eyes and Darby suppressed a smile. As they trundled up, Mrs. Eustis ticked off the pertinent information in such a rush that Darby was certain she wouldn’t remember a thing. “Meals are served in the second-floor dining room. The hours are posted in the lobby, but you can always pop in to pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Socials are held every Thursday evening in the West lounge. Anyone found sneaking a man up into the private rooms risks expulsion. You may use the pool, gymnasium, and squash courts in the basement from eight o’clock in the morning to six o’clock at night. At the top floor you’ll find the sky terrace and solarium. You’re enrolled at Katharine Gibbs, is that correct, Miss McLaughlin?”

The elevator door opened and they stepped down a narrow hallway. “Yes, ma’am. I’m due to start classes Monday.”

“Very good. I’m afraid there were no vacant rooms on the floors where the Gibbs girls are housed. You’ll be here, with girls who work for Eileen Ford.”

“Like the cars?” Darby asked. She imagined all the secretaries learning the names of automotive parts.

“No, not the cars.” Mrs. Eustis let out a frustrated sigh. “Here we are.” She stuck a key into a doorknob and opened the door. The long, narrow room smelled of mustiness and hair spray. Darby touched the surface of the bureau, happy to discover it wasn’t sticky with residue.

A twin bed hugged one wall, with a small wooden desk and chair squeezed against the foot of it. The bedspread sported a garish poppy design, as did the curtains, which hung down almost to the floor, making the window appear longer than it actually was. A scuffed wingback chair, too small to curl up in, was wedged into the corner opposite the desk.

“No pets are allowed, no fish, no turtles, nothing of the sort.”

Darby wasn’t sure where she’d get a live fish in the first place. Did they have stores for such things in New York City? Of course they did. They had everything.

“You look quite dazed. I say, are you all right?” “I’m fine, Mrs. Eustis.”

“Very well, then I’ll leave you be. Most of the girls on your floor are out on a trip to the Natural History Museum today, so you’ll find it rather quiet until they return.”

Darby hung up her dresses in the closet and put away the rest of her clothes. She placed her brush and comb on the top of the bureau and lay on the bed, unsure of what to do next, and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

A girl’s scream woke her. The noise was high-pitched and terrifying, and Darby sat up quickly. With a sinking heart, she remembered she was in the middle of a strange city, alone. Out the window, the sun had disappeared behind the horizon in a dull haze, lending an otherworldly glow to the rooftops and water towers.

The scream dissolved into helpless laughter as the racket outside her door increased. The Ford girls must have returned from their outing.

Darby got up and brushed her hair, then put on her favorite dress for courage. It was a creamy cotton that buttoned right up to the neck and had short, cuffed sleeves. The dress flowed out from the belted waist, from which dozens of images of closed umbrellas and parasols hung down among the many pleats. The varying shapes and colors made her smile whenever she looked down.

In the mirror, her face had a sallow cast and her brown hair hung limply in the heat, making her ears seem bigger than normal. The Ear Beautifier that Mother had ordered and insisted she use nightly hadn’t made them any less pronounced. Still, the dress was awfully pretty.

Taking a deep breath, Darby ventured into the hallway.

A gorgeous redheaded girl stopped mid-stride. “Well, hello.”

Darby stuck out her hand. “Hello, I’m Darby McLaughlin.” She plastered a bright smile on her face.

“Darby, I’m Stella Conover. I haven’t seen you before.” Stella stood several inches taller than Darby and had the tiniest ears she’d ever seen. “No. I’m here for secretarial school. From Ohio. Just arrived today. For a moment they didn’t have my reservation, and I figured I’d have to turn around and go right back. But then they found it. They’d put it under my stepfather’s name instead of mine. He’s Saunders, I’m McLaughlin.”

She was babbling. This was not at all what The Art of Conversation advised.

“Well, I’m glad it was sorted out.” Stella took her by the arm. Maybe Darby hadn’t sounded idiotic. “I love your dress, by the way.”

Stella brought her to an open door. Inside, six or seven other girls lolled about while one read out loud from a fashion magazine. When Darby appeared, they all stared up at her.

They looked as if they’d drifted right out of the pages of the magazine. One wore a bright-red lipstick that showed off her perfect bow lips, while another had a tousle of golden curls. Their clothes were tailored and crisp: embroidered white blouses atop pencil skirts, rayon dresses in colorful stripes. A bevy of princesses holed up in a high tower. Even though she’d be turning eighteen in three months, Darby felt more like an anklebiter in the presence of such beauties.

“Ladies, this is Darby; she just arrived today for Katie Gibbs.” Stella pointed to each girl, their names tripping off her tongue. “We’re all with Eileen Ford, the modeling agency.”

That explained it. She was terribly out of place, like a panda in a room full of gazelles.

The girls said hello, and the one with the magazine, named Candy, invited Stella and Darby to join them. Darby tucked herself into the corner, eager to deflect any attention.

“I was just reading the newlywed tips from Mademoiselle. Do you read it, Darby?”

“Of course.” Well, not exactly. Mother bought the latest issue for her every month, and Darby would pretend to leaf through it. The willowy models, with their knowing gazes and impossibly tiny waists, intimidated.

“Anyway, here is the advice, ladies. Number one: ‘Comb your hair and wash your face before breakfast and put lipstick on before you put the coffee on.’ Number two: ‘Never touch your husband’s razor or tidy his desk.’ ”

“Ugh, I wouldn’t want to touch his razor.” The blonde tossed her head and grimaced. Even while making an ugly face, she was pretty.

“Number three: ‘The first time your baby and your husband call you at the same time, go to your husband.’ ”

Darby imagined a baby crying its head off in hunger, while the husband needed help looking for a missing sock. Didn’t seem right.

“Number four: ‘Don’t compete with your husband.’ And finally, number five: ‘Remember that marriage is fun.’ ”

The girls clamored to comment, the words tumbling out.

“I comb my hair before coming downstairs anyway; that wouldn’t make much difference to me.”

“And I’ll have a nurse to see to the baby, so I’ll be free to mind my husband.”

“What do you think, Darby?”

Candy stared at her. This was a test. She needed to respond with an air of élan and a witty comment. If she did, she’d make friends for life, and these girls would ask her to be a bridesmaid at their weddings and invite her to their baby showers and they’d exchange letters, remembering their time together in New York City when they were young and the world was ahead of them.

“I don’t plan on marrying,” Darby said.

Candy’s jaw dropped open. She fiddled with the pearls around her neck. “Ever?”

“That’s why I’m here, to go to school and learn how to earn my own wage. I don’t want a man to support me.” She remembered the look on Mother’s face, both stricken and triumphant, when Daddy had passed away. The other girls stared at her, dumbstruck, and she tried to explain. “A woman shouldn’t have to depend on a man.”

“Right. Maybe you prefer to depend on a woman instead?” “I’m not sure what you mean.”

Candy’s eyes shone with a menacing glee. “You really don’t know what I’m talking about?”

“All I’m saying is that I plan to make enough money to support myself. Isn’t that what you want? Isn’t that why you’re here?”

Candy cackled. “No, sugar. I’m looking to find the richest man I can. Don’t be a nosebleed.”

Before she could respond, Stella announced it was time for dinner, and the gaggle sprang up and trotted out the door. The magazine fell to the floor and Darby carefully picked it up and laid it back on the bed.

She’d said the wrong thing. She smoothed her umbrella dress and

followed them down the hallway.

The clattering of dishes and lively chatter rebounded around the dining room, which was as fancy as any restaurant Darby had been to, with crisp white tablecloths and an art deco chandelier of Odeon glass hanging from the ceiling. Darby followed Stella like a lost puppy, trailing behind the one person who’d been kind. Stella filled her own plate with broccoli and a spoonful of mashed potatoes, but Darby was famished and asked for an extra chicken filet. Her girdle would be tight afterward, but she didn’t care.

“Now, tell me, where are you from in Ohio?” asked Stella once they’d sat down at the table filled with their hall mates.

“Defiance.” Keep your answers short and sweet; don’t drone on.

“What an original name for a town. Much better than Granite Falls, anyway—that’s where I’m from in North Carolina.” Stella took a dainty bite of potato and continued. “It’s strange they put you on the same floor as the models, though. The Gibbs girls are up on sixteen and seventeen.” She put a hand on Darby’s arm. “We’re happy to have you, of course.”

“Why, thank you. Happy to be had.” Wrong. Stupid. Stella threw her an odd glance.

Darby wished she were at home, cuddling her dogs while Mother cooked, enjoying the few quiet hours after school and before Mr. Saunders came home. She’d brought several books with her, including her beloved anthology of Shakespeare’s plays, and part of her wanted nothing more than to run up to her room and lose herself in Twelfth Night or Cymbeline, imagining the stage sets and costumes in her head as she read. “I’m sorry, I’m out of my element here.” Darby fiddled with her cutlery as tears pricked the corners of her eyes.

“There, now.” Stella lowered her voice. “I felt the same way before I settled in. Granite Falls doesn’t even have a bus depot, so you can imagine how overwhelming this was for me when I arrived.”

For the first time, Darby noticed the other girl spoke with a soft Southern lilt. Her voice was musical, like a song. “I like your accent.”

“Thank you. I try to play it down—the modeling agency thinks it makes me seem unsophisticated.”

“How can they say that? It’s beautiful, like a melody.”

Stella drew back, pleased. “That’s so well put. You should be a writer.” “You’re kind, but I can’t waste time daydreaming. I’m here to learn to be a secretary. Mother used all of the insurance money she got when Daddy died to get me here. I won’t have another chance.”

“I see,” said Stella. “And where would you like to work once you’re through with Katie Gibbs, Little Miss Serious?”

Darby smiled. “Funny, I hadn’t thought that far ahead.” The din was nice; it offered them a cocoon of privacy.

“Well, I think you should aim high. You could be the secretary to a top businessman, to someone who runs a publishing house or a fashion line. Someone who’ll appreciate a girl who has a way with words.”

“That sounds like a dream. But we don’t have any such people in Defiance.”

“So don’t go back to Ohio at all, then. You can stay here in New York City.”

“Oh, no, I couldn’t do that.” “But why not?”

Darby wouldn’t dare explain why. That she’d miss her dogs too much, and Mother would be left alone with Mr. Saunders and his moods and temper.

“Did you hear what happened last year?” Candy addressed the entire table, cutting into Darby and Stella’s conversation.

“No, what?” asked Stella, turning away from Darby.

“I heard one of the girls jumped to her death from the fourteenth floor.”

“Hush, Candy. That’s just a rumor and you know it.”

“No, it’s true.” Candy stared right at Darby. “One of the doormen told me all about it. Said they covered it up so the papers wouldn’t find out, just shoveled up the body and sent it home to wherever she was from.”

“Awful!” The girls’ protests rang out.

“We’re not supposed to know. And apparently another girl used a gun to shoot herself in the head in her room several years ago. Her ghost still walks the halls, half of her head gone.”

Stella pushed away her plate. “Lord, Candy. I’m still eating. You could at least wait until bedtime for such gruesome stories.”

“She wasn’t a guest editor or a model, I know that much. Probably a Katie Gibbs girl. You better watch out, Darby.” The room began to spin.

“You don’t look very well,” said Stella.

“I’m fine.” Darby wiped her mouth with her napkin and offered up a weak smile.

“You know, I have a powder that would be perfect for the shine on your nose.” Stella again, saving the day. Bored with the line of conversation, the other girls turned away. “I’ll give it to you when we go back to our rooms. Would you like that?”

“I would like that very much. Thank you.” Embarrassed, Darby patted at her cheeks with her napkin, hoping to tone down the oily sheen that had haunted her since she was fourteen. She was way out of her league with these girls: ugly, uninformed, and dull-witted. How many dinners would she have to sit through before she could return to Defiance? September through June, ten months, seven dinners a week, four weeks a month: two hundred and eighty, minus some for the holiday vacations.

Back in her room, Darby threw herself facedown on her bed and silently wept into her pillow. She had just wound down when a knock sounded on her door.

“Darby, I brought your powder. Pond’s Angel Face; it’s to die for.” Stella stepped in and closed the door behind her. “Why are you sitting in the dark?”

Darby sat up and wiped her eyes. “I want to go home, Stella. I don’t want to be here.”

Stella joined her on the bed and put her arm around her. She smelled of vanilla, and Darby couldn’t help but lay her head on her shoulder. Stella didn’t flinch, as she might have, and this small kindness almost set off another round of tears.

“There, there.” Stella reached around with her free hand and tucked

Darby’s hair behind her ear. “You’ll settle in soon enough.” “Do you really think there’s a ghost?”

“No. I think Candy’s a first-class brat. Don’t let her get to you. You’re a Barbizon girl now; you’re one of us.”

The dull panic that had clutched her heart since she’d left Ohio loosened, just a little, and Darby let out a deep, sad sigh.

Meet 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 10 years, she changed careers, working as an editor and writer and specializing in health, fitness, nutrition, dance and theater.

She's a graduate of the College of William and Mary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is based in in New York City. She loves nothing better than hitting farmer’s 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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The Dollhouse 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you were Around in the 50's this was a nastalgic read. I was an i enjoyed reading it.
Anonymous 12 months ago
What a good book! The setting was very different from any other book. I was always interested in reading about the Barbizon Hotel for Women so this was a no brainer of a book to order. The story was solid and kept me intent on reading as the chapters alternated between the present and the 1950's. The characters were intriguing and likeable. Past and present along with characters and story intertwined with ease. Great first novel by this author and I look forward to her next book. Good mystery with a twist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book with a glimpse into 1950's and 2016's New York City life. Interesting characters to follow.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Anonymous 6 months ago
Easy read and interesting portrayal of a bygone era. But the characters were predictable abs the story line was mildly unbelievable.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I found this book to be a fun quick read.
ThoughtsFromaPage 10 months ago
4.5 stars The Dollhouse provides a fascinating glimpse into life at the Barbizon Hotel for Women in the 1950s. The story opens in 2016 with Rose who lives in the Barbizon, which has been renovated and now contains high end condos. She learns that a few of the women who lived there until the hotel closed were granted rooms on the 4th floor so that they would have a place to live. Rose, who is a journalist, decides to pursue the stories of these women, particularly Darby McLaughlin. The Dollhouse shifts back and forth in time between 1952 and 2016. Fiona Davis connects the two stories seamlessly, and the effect is outstanding. Davis includes so many entertaining details about the Barbizon (the Odeon chandelier, the art deco décor and furnishings) and what it was like to live there in the 1950s and 1960s – women living there could not cross the lobby wearing pants, only skirts. She also references the famous women who lived there such as Sylvia Plath, Liza Minelli, Candace Bergen and Joan Crawford. The jazz and bebop scene in Manhattan in the 1950s is included too with big names such as Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk making appearances. The Dollhouse was a ton of fun to read and very well-written. I loved the story and was so glad I read it. Thanks to First to Read for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Try as I have to love this book, it just did not happen. I don't know whether the younger new writers were told that flashing back in forth in time between chapters is the thing to do or not as this is the second book that I have read on a row that used this technique. I guess it has its advantages, but I can't see them. The story becomes too disjointed and is simply annoying. I had a sister that went through the Katherine Gibbs school so I was interested right away,. Good storyline, but many characters to follow back and forth in time. .
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This book definitely took me back in time into an era where women wore gloves and hats and were not to be seen wearing pants. It was definitely a different era. I enjoyed reading the fact that there were a lot of women who once lived in this "hotel" just for women including Sylvia Plath, Liza Minnelli, Candace Bergen and many other famous people. However, for the story, it was just a lot of girls from little towns across the USA that came to New York to see and make their dreams come true. Sadly, that didn't happen for all of them. And as of present day, there were still several of them that still live there on the fourth floor after the building had been made into condos. This did not read like a debut novel to me and I look forward to reading more of Fiona Davis books. I really grew to like the main characters and I like where she took the story and myself. Whether it be uptown to all the classy places or down to the jazzy places where a lot of people would not dare to go. This was a great look back at that era and it was also a sad look back at that era. I absolutely loved this story and was sad when it was done. I really did not want to leave it as I wanted to hear more about the girls of "The Dollhouse". A beautifully told story that was very well written. Thanks to Dutton and Edelweiss for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
In 1952, the Barbizon Hotel in New York City was a safe place to live for many young woman who were alone and entering the job market. Darby McLaughlin leaves behind the Midwest to make a career for herself in secretarial school. Due to lack of vacancy, instead of being placed on the floor with other young women pursuing similar careers, she is given space with the models. There she is an outsider, intimidated by the beautiful and assertive models. She does make a friend however. Esme is a spirited woman who takes Darby under her protection and introduces her to nightclub, jazz, and dances! The story then switches to the modern day. Most of the rooms in the Barbizon are now condos and she lives there with her boyfriend. When her boyfriend evicts her to return to his wife, Rose finds herself house-sitting a dog that belongs to Darby. She stumbles upon the legend and mystery of Esme and Darby and seeks to learn the dark secrets. Both storylines are very rich with complexity, and growing with conflict as each of the women's struggles become ever more challenging. Tension continually ramps up with each page turned. It's easy to follow both the present and the past storylines without being jarred from the story. As the excitement builds, the ending is unpredictable and satisfying! I loved this book. For more book reviews, please visit my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.
Jill-Elizabeth_dot_com More than 1 year ago
What a delight this was, like reading lemon sorbet – light and refreshing, with a bit of bite if you take too big a spoonful, too quickly… My review copy of The Dollhouse was graciously provided by the publisher, Dutton (Penguin Random House). The book opens in contemporary Manhattan, and shifts perspectives – and stories – back and forth by chapter. The two storytellers are Rose, the modern-day protagonist, and Darby, the 1950s version. The two women bear more than a few traits in common and find themselves in startlingly similar straits as their lives and circumstances dance in and out of their control – sometimes due to their own misguided decisions, but occasionally due to those of the people they (think they can) trust. The setting is what makes this a novel novel though, and separates it from other books of this genre. The Barbizon Hotel for Women (the eponymous, and derogatively-nicknamed, “Dollhouse” of the title) is the home of both Darby and Rose – and scads of single women who moved to New York City in throngs in the 1950s to “better themselves” through education, modeling, or the other “respectable” jobs open to women of the day. The Barbizon has housed famous (and infamous) women throughout the years, from the darkly brilliant Sylvia Plath (perhaps the most well-known resident, albeit one of those of shorter duration – she only lived there for a month) to the sunny Grace Kelly, from the sassy Cybill Shephard to the terribly talented (and terribly controversial) Joan Crawford. It was the jumping-off point for some of the most famous women of the twentieth century, before they were known by anyone outside of their families. It was designed as a “safe”, “family” environment for these women, many of whom traveled to the big, bad city from suburbs and rural spots across America. The truth, of course, is that nowhere is always safe, not even family environments – and the Barbizon was no different. The personalities, the secrets, the in-fighting and machinations – this is what made the book fascinating to me, and what tied the lives of Darby and Rose together into an interesting narrative. The two women’s stories intertwine as Rose finds herself swept up in the drama mystery of Darby’s life in an attempt to unravel some of the drama and mystery in her own. It sounds much more convoluted than it actually is. Perhaps sorbet isn’t the right image, after all – sorbet is, after all, a relatively straightforward and predictable dessert. The book is more of a Sidecar (the drink, not the conveyance): dignified cognac dashing up hard against overly sweet triple sec, with a dash of sharp bitter lemon to somehow tie it all together by adding just enough kick to make the otherwise sickeningly-sweet bits palatable… There are definite chick-lit elements here. I don’t see the audience for this one branching very far from the “women’s fiction” section of the bookstore… Still, there is interesting history here for those interested in the developing roles of women in America, with definite parallels (and some sad realizations, tied to said parallels) to the perilous life of modern women as well. In many ways, the challenges facing the “career girls” of the Barbizon are all too relatable to women in the 21st century. It’s still a struggle to balance demands between family and job, even if the nature of those demands have shifted rather dramatically since Darby’s day. Rose certainly qualifies as a modern “career girl” – independent, suc
DaneWeimMama More than 1 year ago
This book was such an interesting look into a time past..... when life seemed a little more "proper" But yet bad things happen then just like they do now. I enjoyed the 2 different timelines & the way the author intertwined them. Darby is in 1952 NYC to become a secretary & return home. She feels overwhelmed by so much until she & a maid at the Barbizon Hotel for Women become friends. Current day Barbizon resident (now condos) Ruby is a journalist & begins to investigate the stories behind a mysterious death at the Hotel all those years ago. Really enjoyed this book & look forward to reading more by Fiona Davis. Advanced Reader Copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Shelves_of_Knives More than 1 year ago
MEDIUM: eBook MY RATING: 3/5 Hardcover, 304 pages Published August 23, 2016 by Dutton While living in her married boyfriend’s condo in the old Barbizon Hotel, Rose Lewin hears some gossip regarding a tenant who still lives on the 4th floor, Darby McLaughlin. Darby has lived in the Barbizon since the 1950s when it was a haven for women who were preparing to enter society life, either by learning a job skill (secretarial) or by meeting a man to marry. Rose learns that Darby was somehow responsible for the death of a hotel maid named Esme, and during that event Darby’s face was brutally cut, leaving a horrible scar that she covers with a veil at all times. The book flips back and forth between 2016 and the 1950s. Most of the time, this format works out well and adds a nice layer of interest to a story. In this particular book, though, it all seems so disjointed and unnecessary. Actually, the present day storyline is rather arbitrary, bordering on uninteresting. I enjoyed the 1950s thread more, but even it was tenuous and strained at times. The two threads just didn’t flow together very well, in my opinion. I’m not sure in the real world that Rose would have cared enough about this story to devote so much time and effort to investigate it, especially when her editor wasn’t thrilled about the story, expressing it wasn’t interesting enough to publish. Which is pretty much exactly what I think about this whole story – somewhat interesting, but just not enough to make a whole book about it. Another reason I had a tough time with this book is because I could not connect with any of the characters. Rose was not especially well rounded or absorbing enough to really truly care whether she succeeded in her quest for answers or not. Young Darby was mildly entertaining but needed to get a backbone and start thinking for herself – though maybe this was an intentional character trait to highlight the mindset of most young women in the 1950s, leaving most of the “thinking” to men… I just don’t know. Esme was the most interesting person in the novel, yet even she was a rather flat, predictable character. What I did find quite interesting was the history of the hotel. The Barbizon was a real hotel, and the building still exists with most of the rooms having been converted into condos. The Ford modeling agency really did house its girls there, as did Katherine Gibbs College. In fact, many famous women lived there throughout the hotel’s heyday: Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen, Cybill Shepard, Liza Minelli, Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale, Joan Didion, Rita Hayworth, Sylvia Plath, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, and Cloris Leachman! Long story short, this wasn’t a winner in my opinion. It didn’t hold my interest, and as a result, I can’t really recommend it with much confidence. This book was given to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. More historical fiction books: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!
LitWinner More than 1 year ago
I had heard little tidbits here and there about The Barbizon and was intrigued. What was this “hotel” where women lived in the 1950’s? Was it chaperoned? It seemed a bit strange in New York City, as this was where young adults went to be free. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis seemed to have the answers to the questions I had. While we do learn some details about the residents of this building, Davis creates a fictional story of one resident of the building as it is now, as well as stories of one young woman, Darby, who found herself there. Darby meets people she would have never met back at home, which is what I feel that a young adulthood in New York is for – an awakening in the city of possibilities. As Rose explores Darby’s story, we learn about how those websites that give us viral stories work. I was really taken aback, even though I really shouldn’t have been. As a part of that community, we’re always looking for the hook to get traffic and/or followers. It’s kind of an ugly world, and this book started an examination of my part in this community. I liked The Dollhouse, if it seemed a bit crazy at times, but anything can happen in New York, right? I received a copy of this book through Edelweiss. All thoughts are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this story. It was an easy read with characters that were easy to relate too
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well worth reading.