The Dollhouse

Fiona Davis. Dutton, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-101-98499-4
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.)
Reviewed on: 05/09/2016
Release date: 08/23/2016
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-0316-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-0314-1
Ebook - 978-1-101-98500-7
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-101-98626-4
Hardcover - 510 pages - 978-1-4104-9452-8
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-101-98501-4
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