Fiona Davis [2 years ago]
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“Rich both in twists and period detail, this tale of big-city ambition is impossible to put down.”—People
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 1950s 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.
May 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.
© Publishers Weekly
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|Published||:||Aug 23, 2016|
|Publisher||:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Seller||:||PENGUIN GROUP USA, INC.|
|Print Length||:||368 Pages|