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“Rich both in twists and period detail, this tale of big-city ambition is impossible to put down.”—People
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.
For most New Yorkers, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.
For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future. It is 1928, and Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. Though not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist," fiery Clara is single-minded in her quest to achieve every creative success—even while juggling the affections of two very different men. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression...and that even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.
By 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Dilapidated and dangerous, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece—an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.
When a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house the Dakota, leads to a job offer for Sara Smythe, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America. The opportunity to be the female manager of the Dakota. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else...and is living in the Dakota with his wife and three young children.
One hundred years later, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities: Fresh out of rehab, the former interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Bailey's grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden, yet Bailey won't see a dime of the Camden family's substantial estate; instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden's biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda's vision. The renovation will take away all the character of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in...and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum—a madwoman named Sara Smythe.
A century apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages--for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the nightlife's free-flowing drinks and cocaine—and take refuge in the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich, and often as tragic, as the Dakota's can't hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers inside could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.
From the dramatic redbrick facade to the sweeping staircase dripping with art, the Chelsea Hotel has long been New York City's creative oasis for the many artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, and poets who have called it home—a scene playwright Hazel Riley and actress Maxine Mead are determined to use to their advantage. Yet they soon discover that the greatest obstacle to putting up a show on Broadway has nothing to do with their art, and everything to do with politics. A Red Scare is sweeping across America, and Senator Joseph McCarthy has started a witch hunt for communists, with those in the entertainment industry in the crosshairs. As the pressure builds to name names, it is more than Hazel and Maxine's Broadway dreams that may suffer as they grapple with the terrible consequences, but also their livelihood, their friendship, and even their freedom.
Spanning from the 1940s to the 1960s, The Chelsea Girls deftly pulls back the curtain on the desperate political pressures of McCarthyism, the complicated bonds of female friendship, and the siren call of the uninhibited Chelsea Hotel.
It's 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn't ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she is drawn to Greenwich Village's new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women's rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she's forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.
Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she's wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie's running begin disappearing from the library's famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library's history.
A collection of short stories from a chorus of bestselling writers all set on the same day, October 23, 1915, in which tens of thousands of women marched for the right to vote in New York City.
“This collection, written by some of the most celebrated authors writing today commemorates and celebrates the battles women faced in fighting for the Nineteenth Amendment. The stories focus on women of different ages, different backgrounds, different ethnicities, as well as on the contributions made by men who supported the cause. These talented authors bring the powerful, important, emotional tale of the suffrage movement alive. In reading these stories as a collection, I was struck by the importance of the message. We are often reminded that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, and I believe deeply in the truth of that sentiment. Few things are as vital as remembering and passing on history to future generations. History is not a set of dry facts in a dusty old book. We keep the past alive by remembering the people who lived it, who fought for a more equal world and who paid for their convictions. This short story collection celebrates the women who fought for all women and ensured that our voices would be heard. By voting, we join the ghosts of the women who came before us in the fight to make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren.”
--Kristin Hannah, from the introduction for Stories From Suffragette City
With stories from:
M. J. Rose
Katherine J. Chen
Christina Baker Kline
and Fiona Davis