Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dollhouse” as Want to Read:
The Dollhouse
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dollhouse

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  31,702 ratings  ·  3,142 reviews
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 wit ...more
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by Dutton Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dollhouse, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Ruth "The Address" another of Fiona Davis's books. Loved the story. Clues found in renovations of Dakota Hotel New York City weaves two families together t…more"The Address" another of Fiona Davis's books. Loved the story. Clues found in renovations of Dakota Hotel New York City weaves two families together thru generations and countries apart into a wonderful historical drama.(less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Jack Edwards Mr. Blumenthal points to the line that supposedly explains who Darby's face got cut. But that line doesn't explain the serious extend of Darby's scars…moreMr. Blumenthal points to the line that supposedly explains who Darby's face got cut. But that line doesn't explain the serious extend of Darby's scars, which are described in some detail. Up until the end, I liked this book. But failing to provide an adequate explanation for the scars is unforgivable - the scars were an integral part of the story. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  31,702 ratings  ·  3,142 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Dollhouse
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Rose Lewin has just moved in with her newly divorced boyfriend. A former network reporter, she is at a new job that she considers a career setback. At the moment, she is unsure of the decisions she has made in her life. She is living at the former Barbizon hotel which used to house women pursuing modeling and secretarial careers.

While walking through the condo lobby one evening, Rose comes across an unfriendly elderly resident. By way of the doorman, she finds out that this woman and a few othe
Chelsea Humphrey
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-publisher
This was very realistic feeling historical fiction! I was immersed in the culture of the period and fascinated by the mystery and goings on of such a controversial time. I have never felt more grateful to be a woman in such a time as this as I am after finishing this book. Full review to come.

*Thanks Dutton for my copy!
David Putnam
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Dollhouse is a smooth, easy and compelling read.
The book alternates between time periods and points of view. The points of view are clear and concise and held my attention. I really enjoyed both perspectives and time periods. Loved the descriptions of the hotel and the wonderful snapshots of the time period. It even had great smells, and lighting. This is a character driven story more about class distinction and its ultimate outcome. Rose is from a small town in Ohio trying to find her place
Jul 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, 2016, netgalley

3.5 Stars

The Barbizon of 1952 groomed young women who were living away from home – the ever-watchful eyes of parents were replaced with a housemother’s watchful eyes, looking after all of the girls. Not just their safety, but how they would present themselves every day, eventually present themselves to the world, in a fashionably, socially acceptable, manner. Maybe most went there to find a suitable entrance into a society where they could find a suitable husband, but there were others who went
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katie B
3.5 stars

This is the third book I have read by the author, and not surprisingly, I enjoyed it. Most historical fiction authors tend to focus on either historical events or figures, and what I like about Fiona Davis is she starts with a building or location to feature and then builds a story around that. The setting really adds to the overall story and in many ways is like a character in the novel itself.

Back in the 1950s, New York City's Barbizon Hotel for Women was the home of many aspiring mod
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was ok

I keep starting books and just not feeling them, which honestly was also the case with this one, but I was determined to just finish one and to break my curse! The writing here is just awkward as hell and both storylines are completely ridiculous and full of majorly unrealistic moments. In the present, a woman living in the Barbizon (everything about her is basically a terrible rom-com, so I'm not even gonna get started) becomes intrigued by the mystery of
Tina Haigler
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
"She'd forgotten the onions."

So how to describe this book...I did like it, but I liked half of the book a lot more than the other half. You see, this book is told in two POVs, and they switch every chapter. Both POVs are in New York City, but one is a woman living in the Barbizon Hotel for women in 1952, and the other is a reporter, living in the same building, now turned into condos, in 2016. Some of the women who originally lived in the hotel never left, instead moving into rent-controlled con
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: "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 blon
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Silly chick lit. Also another of those current day/historical period dual storylines that are all the rage. Had the author focused entirely on the 1950s, it would have been a much better book: more believable and less fluff.
Sherri Thacker
I really enjoyed this book. I loved how each chapter went back and forth from the 1950's to the present and it was easy to follow. I'm adding this author to my list of favorites! ...more
3.5 rounded up to 4.00 stars

The name, "Barbizon Hotel", for any woman who loves the aura of vintage New York, becomes an immediate lure, offering glamour, high society successes and the understanding of the privilege of being chosen as one of its lodgers. Ford models, Katie Gibbs secretarial students, Mademoiselle magazine interns and acting class students were safely housed in what was euphemistically named, in the 1940’s, "The Dollhouse", the slang of the day noting the rigorously chaperoned,
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a toss up to rate it either a 3 or 4 star novel. I went with the 4 primarily because of the "feel" of 1952. Knowing little of NYC Manhattan hotels or rooming houses of that era, I still felt that Fiona Davis pretty well matched in clear prose the dichotomy of that particular decade. The gloves, the girdles, the posture, the "tone" desired for female workplace advance- nearly all of it. And especially in Darby's Mother, she grabbed that very common "what will the neighbors think" wall on ...more
Brooke Banks
Another #ARCAugust read down!

Trigger Warning: Rape

I won a copy from Meaghan Walsh Gerard's ABEA giveaway.

First of all, the blurb is misleading. No, the “rumors of Darby’s involvement” DO NOT haunt the halls. No one knows or gives a shit. Rose only found about it by being nosey with the gossiping doorman.

And glitz? I didn’t see much glitz. There’s like one pricey dinner and a floor full of model ‘gazelles’ and that’s it.

The rest is spent in secretary school, a hotel room, and the jazz club. W
Oct 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
I have a few issues with this book. First, I couldn't bring myself to like Rose, the main character. SPOILER - She gets dumped and holes up in the apartment of her elderly neighbor whom she is interested in for a news story. Said neighbor has no idea someone is squatting in her apartment while she's away. Then at the end instead of being mad at Rose, Darby decides they are from similar circumstances so she will tell her squatter the details of her life that she's never shared with anyone else. D ...more
I loved this book! It was such a fascinating story! I remember reading about the rooming houses in New York where women could go and there were set rules they had to follow. I didn't know this one was famous with several famous people living there like Sylvia Plath (one month) and Liza Minelli. I liked how the story went back in time to 1952 when things were actually happening to 2016 with Rose doing research for her article. The ending did have a twist and then another twist. This was so well w ...more
Bookish Ally
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Near the beginning of this book, I almost put it down as the characters seemed flat to me, failing to impress me as real. But I began to warm up. This is one of those books that has concurrent timelines, one present day and one in the past, in this case, 1952, and set in a women’s residency hotel (complete with matron for respectability’s sake). It’s a story that will use several elements of your imagination, to hear the music of the dark jazz club, to smell the spices that are set up in the spi ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A dual story taking place sixty four years apart featuring two young women.

Rose is living in the former Barbizon Hotel for Women and is captivated by one of the long time residents. Reclusive Darby does NOT feel the same way and is resistant to any overtures by Rose or anyone else for that matter.

What happened all those years ago with Darby and the mysterious maid falling to her death? Why does she wear the veil covering her face? Rumor has it that she was disfigured.

Eighty two year old Darby s
Cindy Burnett
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 s
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think I've found another favourite author!
This is a beautiful dual-timeline story, set in New York in the 1950's and 2016.
Darby in 1952, and Rose in 2016 are both lovely and I enjoyed reading about their lives in alternating chapters.
I felt as if I was in 1952 when I read about Darby and i cared about her. Rose too in 2016 was also easy to like.
There is romance, mystery, a lovely old hotel called The Barbizon, which in the 1950's was called The Dollhouse because only ladies were allowed to r
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
What a fascinating story. The Barbizon Hotel for women really did existing in New York City in the 1950s as did the Gibbs secretarial school for women. This story follows two entirely different women, one who lived there and one who worked there as well as a journalist in 2016 who comes across the story. It was very compelling, interesting and wonderful.
Meh. Fiona Davis's descriptions of the buildings (The Dakota, The Barbizon Hotel) in her stories are quite good. Sadly, her stories within the buildings are lacking. ...more
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This novel is centered around two young women who live in the Barbizon in NYC - in 1952 and 2016. I like NYC historical novels and really enjoyed the period detail. I've been fascinated with the Barbizon since I visited it when it was a hotel in the mid 1980s. The novel itself was fine and a breeze to read but I'm already forgetting it.... ...more
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to Dutton and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Fiona Davis’s debut, THE DOLLHOUSE, indulging and intriguing-a classic of the renowned historical Barbizon Hotel, a hotel for women, later known as Barbizon 63. The boys called it "The Dollhouse", packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls.

From the Roaring 20s through the 1960s, there was no address more glamorous than New York’s “women only” Barbizon Hotel.

A combined charm school and dormitory, it
N.L. Brisson
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you are of a certain age then you were just in your teens when Sylvia Plath committed suicide and you probably read The Bell Jar which young people, especially young women, still read today. Sylvia Plath was very interesting to English major types because she was young and she was already famous. She won a sort of internship at Mademoiselle Magazine and went off to live in New York City. Quite an accomplishment for someone just starting out in life and we will never know if, or how much, her ...more
Novel read for Book Discussion Group

This was a fascinating story of a couple of the girls who lived at the Barbizon Hotel during the 50's. Fiona Davis tells the story of Darby a girl from Defiance, Ohio whose mother sends her to New York City to attend secretarial school. Darby finds a friend in a maid, Esme. As Esme draws Darby into the jazz world of 1950's New York, Darby begins to find herself there. The other half of the novel is the story of Rose, a journalist who happens to live just above
MaryBeth's Bookshelf
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s easy to get distracted by all the new release books each week. New books, new authors, everyone telling you “you have to read this book now!” .... It’s good to slow down and remember who you are as a reader and read what you love, not what the masses are shouting about on any given day. I picked up The Dollhouse by @fionadavis in the $5 bin at Barnes and Noble months ago. I’ve definitely heard of Fiona, but I had never read any of her books. I am so glad that I did because I absolutely ador ...more
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 to 4.0 rounded up to 4 "lite mystery" stars

This topsy-turvy story centered around the Barbizon Hotel in the 1950s kept me guessing until the very end. That's what pushed it up to a full 4 stars.
The story alternates between 1952 when the hotel was filled with young women flirting with modeling at the famous Eileen Ford Agency, secretarial students at Katie Gibbs, and a few writers and actresses. In 2016 we find Rose, journalist and former TV anchor for a popular newsy, magazine show where sev
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Darby comes to New York City's Barbizon Hotel for Women to stay while she attends classes to become a secretary. It's 1952 and Darby doesn't have much on her plate of worth for women of this time: she's plain and she's poor, and she's spent her youth being cruelly bullied by her mother. Secretarial school isn't going well, and the fashion models she meets at the hotel are as brutal as her mother. And then she meets the hotel maid, Esme, and Esme introduces Darby to the vibrant world of jazz, and ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Doll House & The Address by Fiona Davis 9 50 Jan 21, 2019 04:27PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Four Winds
  • The Book of Lost Names
  • The Nature of Fragile Things
  • Carnegie's Maid
  • Surviving Savannah
  • The Exiles
  • The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
  • The Book of Lost Friends
  • The Paris Library
  • Записки от Шато Лакрот
  • The Last Train to Key West
  • Her Last Flight
  • Park Avenue Summer
  • The Rose Code
  • The Winemaker's Wife
  • The Children's Blizzard
  • Lady Clementine
  • 28 Summers
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Fiona Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of historical novels set in iconic New York City buildings, including THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE (a GMA Book Club Pick) and THE CHELSEA GIRLS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, working on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master's degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing ...more

Articles featuring this book

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
58 likes · 17 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“No matter how she had suffered, Darby hadn’t retreated from life after all. In fact, she’d embraced it. Quietly, carefully, but with dignity and love.” 7 likes
“So how did you get into journalism?” “In high school I worked on the paper. Then I majored in journalism in college. I loved collecting facts and then making a story out of them. The perfect combo of science and art. How about you?” “I” 5 likes
More quotes…