It’s 1952 and Darby has just arrived in New York City at the Barbizon Hotel, a hotel for women particularly those studying at Katherine Gibbs to be secretaries like Darby or for models working for the Ford Agency. Darby feels lost stuck on a floor with glamorous models, and she really isn’t enjoying her classes very much. She becomes friends with a maid at the hotel, Esme, who is outgoing and outspoken and takes Darby under her wing. Esme introduces Darby to the jazz scene and a world Darby never knew existed. Years later, in the present day, Rose is living in a newly renovated condo same building as the Barbizon Hotel. Rose is a journalist and learns that back in the 1950s a maid fell to her death from the roof of the hotel and that some of the ladies who lived in the hotel then have never left and live in rent controlled apartments on the fourth floor. So begins the story of the past and present in a building that touches the lives of two very interesting women.
This book really makes the lives of these singles ladies from small towns trying to exist and thrive in the big city in the 50s come to life. The author is really good at breathing life into these characters and making the reader like them in spite of their flaws. Good people will make some bad and interesting decisions when life throws horrible things their way. I also liked the way she make the ladies spark as their younger AND older selves instead of making the older versions of these ladies quiet and cozy.
For fans of historical fiction as well as books in New York City and mysteries too.