The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
Rating: ★★★ // Entertaining, but not quite my cup of tea.
The hottest trend in books lately seems to be the alternating point of view between multiple characters or multiple time periods. Sometimes it works splendidly, and sometimes it crashes and burns. This book falls somewhere in the middle of that range, but for me it leans closer to the latter, because it just didn’t really work for me.
The story follows two women, Darby and Rose, who live in the Barbizon (nicknamed the Dollhouse), a once hotel/apartment building for working woman in the ’50s and now turned condo building in the middle of New York City.
Rose, a journalist in NYC, just moved into the Barbizon Condos with her boyfriend, who is recently separated from his wife. Soon after we meet our young protagonist, we find out that her boyfriend is going back to his family and trying to make things work with his wife. Taken completely by surprise sends Rose into a mild mid-life crisis, which results in her diving deep into a story about the old Barbizon hotel and mainly the life of one particular resident, Darby McLaughlin, who still resides in the building and always covers her face with a veil.
Flash back over 50 years before and we meet the Darby, a young girl who left her country life behind in hopes of making her way through secretary school. Darby’s life get’s crazy fast and she finds herself mixed in things she never dreamed of being apart of.
This book was entertaining, but as I mentioned before I wasn’t the biggest fan of the alternating p.o.v. I think the main reason why it didn’t work for me was because the stories were not equal. Darby’s story was by far the superior of the two, and this made the chapters with Rose boring. This novel would have been far better had it focused solely on Darby’s story and brought us deeper into her life in the ’50s.
While the setup of a wonderful mystery was there, I felt the result was rather anti-climatic, and the build up seemed a bit wasted. I think the mystery would have seemed more alive had we only had Darby’s point of view, however, I do see the benefit of having Rose build up the idea of the mystery by snooping into Darby’s life (yes, snooping–her journalist ethics went out the window in this one).
There were some twists in this book, but I found most of them to be either predictable or so completely out of left field that they were unbelievable. However, on the ones that did work, they worked well, there just seemed to many for me, and to outrageous at times.
Despite my problems with the book, I did read it very quickly and the story kept me reading, which I guess is a major goal for a novel. It is exciting and interesting, and I did want to finish it and find out the big mystery.
I will also say I was shocked when I found out this is Fiona Davis’ debut novel–that’s impressive! Even though this book was a little disappointing for me, I am very excited to see what she gives us in the future; I expect great things!