'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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September 11, 2016

The Dollhouse




There were things I liked about The Dollhouse, with many others that I wished were better. I read it in a few short bursts over the past couple of days, after waiting for it for a long time at the library.  I loved the premise:  it's set in New York's famous Barbizon Hotel for Women, partly in the 1950s, and partly in the present, now that the hotel has been turned into high-priced condos. There are still {truly, apparently} ten ot twelve elderly residents still living in rent-controlled apartments on the fourth floor, and as she encounters one of them in the elevator, Rose Lewin, a young journalist who lives in the building, becomes fascinated with finding out more about their lives.

The author is wonderful with setting and atmosphere and details, and a little more distant and less vivid in creating her characters. The real challenge with the book, is that it uses the technique of telling you (right upfront) how the story will end, and then trying to build interest in how that ending came about. I think you have to work even harder to make that technique work, and the for all these reasons, the book fell a little flat for me; it was fun to read, but except for the historical detail, it didn't rise too far above that. On the other hand,  it's a first novel, and I hope she'll write another one.


The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis
Dutton, 2016
Borrowed, from the Minuteman Library Network





1 comment:

JoAnn said...

I was considering this book - the premise sounds so good - but then there's that slew of new releases I MUST read. Relieved to cross one off the list...

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