Fiona Davis is fast becoming my favorite author. I have enjoyed all her past historical fictions – The Dollhouse, The Address, and The Masterpiece, but this one is the best yet. All of her books center on a historical location in New York City.
This one, unlike her others and many historical fictions written today, does not switch back and forth between two time periods. It starts during WWII with quiet Hazel, the child of a “Broadway family,” including a very demanding stage mom, joining the USO in Italy. She meets Maxine, the brassy Hollywood starlet, and they become fast friends. The plot moves forward to NYC after the war and Hazel is living at the Chelsea Hotel. Hazel writes a play and when it prepares to open on Broadway, comes up against the red scare of the anti-communists during the McCarthy era.
The book has a great feel for NYC during that time period. The girls each have love interests and family drama which are central to the plot. You also get to learn quite a bit about the political climate of that era. There is an element of mystery (more so than in Fiona’s past books). This book was a quick read as it flows easily between Hazel’s and Maxine’s perspectives. Maxine’s story is told from her point of view, party through her diary entries, but Hazel’s story is told by a narrator. This technique works very well as the plot unfolds, and you learn more about both “Chelsea Girls.”
If you haven’t discovered Fiona Davis yet, this is the perfect book to begin with.