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The Dollhouse Audiobook

The Dollhouse: A Novel

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Publisher's Summary

"The Dollhouse... That's what we boys like to call it.... The Barbizon Hotel for Women, packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls. Just like you."

Fiona Davis' stunning debut novel pulls listeners 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.

©2016 Fiona Davis (P)2016 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (497 )
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4.3 (443 )
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Performance
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  •  
    chelsie 08-30-16
    chelsie 08-30-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
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    Story
    "Lifetime Movie in Book Form"
    Any additional comments?

    I read/listen to 2-3 books a week, so I have sort of developed a way to categorize books after finishing them:

    - waste of time
    - worth a read but not for a whole credit (buy it on sale)
    - solid book worth a credit
    - worth a credit and telling friends about

    I feel like this one falls into the 'buy it on sale' category. Interesting history, but not an experienced author and it showed. There were a few plot points that I felt weren't explained (can't elaborate without spoiling), and times that felt very 'Lifetime' for me, meaning silly/trivial misunderstandings creating the main obstacles for the characters. There were also parts that seemed to have no purpose - no character development, furthering of story, etc.
    Would be a fine listen if you have a long drive - but wait until it's on sale.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherri Wildstein 09-12-16 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Started strong but floundered"

    The Dollhouse began with a fascinating story and was intrigued with the narration going between the two time periods involved in the story. The narrator was excellent.
    As the story neared the final third of the book it became trite and predictable.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JK907 08-30-16
    JK907 08-30-16
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    "interesting spin on a very historical NY icon"

    Before reading this book I looked up the history of the Barbizon Hotel and it really help

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NMwritergal 08-26-16
    NMwritergal 08-26-16

    Reader and Writer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Listenable but got progressively more ridiculous"

    First I had to get past the voice performer. Tavia Gilbert does excellent and distinct character voices, but the two main characters she performs (Rose in the present and Darby in '52) were a tiny bit overwrought. But I hung in there figuring I'd get used to it, and I did. All the other characters were performed really well.

    Then the story itself gets progressively more unbelievable as the book progresses. I might have been more inclined to suspend disbelief if I had liked the two main characters. I feel like I should have liked them but instead found them a little insipid. Way too many tangled romances going on, way too much naïve "country bumpkinness," way too much of women who have zero self-confidence and kind of despise themselves.

    The book had enough going for it to keep me listening (I like the structure of a person in the present trying to solve a mystery in the past--and you get both POVs) and I won't return it, but it was ok at best. The publisher calls this a "stunning debut." In no universe could this be considered "stunning." Granted, I think there are people far less critical than I who will really enjoy it, but "stunning" is stunning hyperbole!

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chick2243 10-10-16
    Chick2243 10-10-16 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Meh"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This story really needed more believable characters and plotlines. Quite a few times I felt myself thinking, no real person would actually say that, do that, react that way, etc. It just felt contrived and very corny. I was able to listen until the end but I was definitely not very absorbed in the story.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Fiona Davis again?

    Nah


    What didn’t you like about Tavia Gilbert’s performance?

    The narration was a little bit corny to go along with the story itself - it's hard to tell which was contributing more to the effect.


    What character would you cut from The Dollhouse?

    Darby and Rose...though they were the main characters....oops


    Any additional comments?

    The description makes it sound a lot more exciting than it is.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Aurora, CO United States 09-25-16
    Melissa Aurora, CO United States 09-25-16 Member Since 2014

    mbbjc

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lifetime movie meets Nancy Drew"

    I was very disappointed in this story that seemed promising but played out like a bad Lifetime move, perky Nancy Drew, YA romance blend. The characters were one dimensional and I was disappointed in the lack of history and detail about the actual Barbizon and women's lives in the city at the time. The narrator was fine, but her overly perky performance only added to the effect of a bad lifetime movie.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa Olney, IL, United States 09-24-17
    Teresa Olney, IL, United States 09-24-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "1950’s NYC lifestyle, scandal, jazz clubs, love....."

    I love how this book looks at life in 1950’s New York City at the Barbizon Hotel for Women and the Gibbs Secretarial School as week as 2016 NYC where the hotel has been renovated and women are much more accepted and diversified in their careers. As we all know, it has been a major change! I enjoyed the author’s writing and vivid descriptions. She (and the narrator) made 1950’s NYC and the characters come alive in my mind! I’ll be checking out Fiona Davis’ other book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LLyouvegotmail 09-16-17
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    "A "can't put it down" book"

    a really great book to escape into
    enjoyed this one so much that I stayed in and curled up with it. highly recommend

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sparkle_Titsworth 06-28-17
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    7
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    Story
    "Bromidic"
    Would you try another book from Fiona Davis and/or Tavia Gilbert?

    It was Tavia's narration of Be Frank With Me that steered me toward this book. While Tavia herself is delightfully talented, I doubt I would pick up anything else by Fiona Davis.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Predictable. You knew exactly where this story was going from the very beginning. I sat through it anyway hoping for some redeeming quality or twist to shine through. But no such luck.


    Do you think The Dollhouse needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. This story was very neat and tidy. It was predictable and there are no loose ends. It felt very much like Fiona attended a writers workshop and this was the end product.


    Any additional comments?

    The story wasn't abysmal, but it was lacking the depth of character I prefer. I think perhaps this might be suited for a teenager's summer reading list and not for those of us who prefer imagery and the intensity of details.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blueberry Belle 03-01-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not Exactly Happy"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No, it is too simple and the timing of the action is unlikely.


    What about Tavia Gilbert’s performance did you like?

    Voice was even and not squeeky.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    The premise was enticing, but tension was lacking. I am just not a fan of romance, I guess.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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