From the Roaring 20s through the 1960s, there was no address more glamorous than New York’s “women only” Barbizon Hotel. Nicknamed 'The Dollhouse' by the gentlemen of the time, the Barbizon was a combined charm school and dormitory that would shelter a parade of yet-to-be-discovered damsels—Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen, Sylvia Plath, Ali MacGraw, and many more.
New York City, 2016, Rose Lewis is a journalist who is working at a job she doesn't particularly care for. Her relationship status would be considered complicated at best and she's caring for her elderly father. She's living with her divorced boyfriend in a condo in the renovated Barbizon Hotel. It's here where she meets an elderly woman with a veil covering her face. From the doorman, she learns the woman was involved in a mysterious scandal back in the 1950s. The reporter in Rose is intrigued and can't let this go until she finds out every last detail about who the woman is and what happened to cause her to wear a veil.
New York City, 1952, Darby McLaughlin just stepped off the train from Ohio. Enrolled in Katherine Gibbs, Darby plans on making a career as a secretary. She's naive and has low self-esteem. After a run-in with some mean girls on her floor, Darby is ready to scurry back home when she meets Esme, a maid at the hotel. Esme helps Darby start to break out of her shell and explore new things. But Esme has a domineering influence over Darby that starts to take her down a dangerous path and ultimately leads to tragedy.
Davis illuminates past and present New York City, taking readers all over the city from Brooklyn to Harlem, eating at 50’s cafes, listening to jazz musician greats in nightclubs, and creating a mystery and love story all in one. I was intrigued by the twists and turns of the mystery, but I most enjoyed the history of the building and time period.