What it’s about: The Dollhouse is an intriguing mystery novel that’s split between two eras and narrators. There’s Darby, the midwestern woman in the 1950s who’s training
to become a secretary in New York City and yearning to fit in at her new home: the Barbizon Hotel for Women. Her mundane life changes when she meets Esme, a fiery Puerto Rican maid who works nights at a seedy and spectacular jazz club, and Sam, the handsome cook at the club who wants to start his own restaurant. Esme and Sam bring new thrills into her life, but things start getting darker when Darby realizes that her new friends may not be what they seem.
Fast forward to 2016. Rose is a modern journalist who lived in what used to be the Barbizon Hotel for Women. Searching for a story that will distract her from the tragedy in her own life, she begins interviewing some of the older women who have lived in the hotel for the past 50 years.What she begins to dig up is intriguing and not at all what she suspected.
Why I liked it: The Dollhouse was fast paced and thrilling while also being delightful. It captures issues of class and gender masterfully, and also has a lovely dash of jazz music, romance, and fine cooking. The characters are believable, and somehow Darby’s 1950’s NYC is just as believable as Rose’s. I read it in two sittings, and I’m excited to see what else Fiona Davis creates in the next few years.
Read if you liked:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Trapeze by Simon Mawer