The Chelsea Girls

The Chelsea Girls

From Fiona Davis, the nationally bestselling author of The Dollhouse and The Address, the bright lights of the theater district, the glamour and danger of 1950s New York, and the wild scene at the iconic Chelsea Hotel come together in a dazzling new novel about the twenty-year friendship that will irrevocably change two women's lives. From the dramatic redbrick facade to t...

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Title:The Chelsea Girls
Author:Fiona Davis
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The Chelsea Girls Reviews

  • Shannon Dyer

    Review to come at AAR.

  • Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)

    Hazel Ripley left her unfulfilling career as a constant understudy to join the USO Tour during World War II. Her new job takes her to the Old World where she meets Maxine Mead, a vivacious and outspoken actress. The two women bond over their love of theater and mutual formative experiences in Italy.

    Their friendship endures beyond their stint abroad; the two cross paths again at the iconic Chelsea Hotel - a haven for artists and creators - in the 1950s. Hazel catches a break as a playwright, and

    Hazel Ripley left her unfulfilling career as a constant understudy to join the USO Tour during World War II. Her new job takes her to the Old World where she meets Maxine Mead, a vivacious and outspoken actress. The two women bond over their love of theater and mutual formative experiences in Italy.

    Their friendship endures beyond their stint abroad; the two cross paths again at the iconic Chelsea Hotel - a haven for artists and creators - in the 1950s. Hazel catches a break as a playwright, and Maxine returns as a Hollywood starlet. But as the era of McCarthyism and blacklisting of the entertainment industry develops, Hazel and Maxine find themselves caught in the cross-fire. As the pressure builds, Hazel and Maxine face life-changing decisions about loyalty, morality, and freedom, all of which unfold before the Victorian facade of the Chelsea Hotel. Will the hunt for communists break these women apart?

    Fiona Davis, the bestselling author of The Dollhouse, The Address, and The Masterpiece, crafts another exciting narrative rich in historical detail and unexpected twists. The Chelsea Girls shines a light on the glamour of the theater world and the power of standing up for creative freedom. This is a perfect read for lovers of historical fiction, theater, and New York City.

  • Camille Maio

    Fiona Davis has captured the hearts of readers with the way she brings life to New York City landmarks through compelling historical fiction. Setting her sights on the Chelsea Hotel, she delves into the world of theater in the McCarthy era. As two women wrestle with wartime memories, fractured friendship, love, and trust, readers will find themselves immersed in the world that Davis created and will be eager for more.

  • Jamie

    Fiona Davis is absolutely one of my favorite voices in historical fiction and her latest, The Chelsea Girls, proves why. This time around, Davis takes on post WWII communism and does so within the world of theater and performing arts in NYC. Deviating from the dual timelines of her past work, The Chelsea Girls begins in Italy where Hazel & Maxine meet on a USO tour and then a few years later, they are reunited in NYC at the Chelsea Hotel to work in theater together. Underneath all the friend

    Fiona Davis is absolutely one of my favorite voices in historical fiction and her latest, The Chelsea Girls, proves why. This time around, Davis takes on post WWII communism and does so within the world of theater and performing arts in NYC. Deviating from the dual timelines of her past work, The Chelsea Girls begins in Italy where Hazel & Maxine meet on a USO tour and then a few years later, they are reunited in NYC at the Chelsea Hotel to work in theater together. Underneath all the friendship and artistic expression, the art world has come under siege due to rising fears of communism (the red scare).

    Davis has quite the knack for discussing important parts of history while also lending her unique voice to the story and creating three dimensional characters that truly leap off the page. I learned a ton about a time period I knew little and also appreciated the fictional component of the friendship immensely.

    Thank you to Dutton for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.

  • Julia Kelly

    A dazzling story of loyalty, friendship, and betrayal in 1950s Bohemian New York amid the danger of the Red Scare. It will leave readers wishing they could spend a night at the Chelsea Hotel for a taste of Broadway glamor and a well-shaken cocktail.

  • MicheleReader

    Whether it’s the Barbizon, the Dakota, Grand Central Terminal or The Chelsea Hotel, Fiona Davis has the great talent of weaving her wonderful stories around some of New York City’s most interesting and iconic landmarks. I’ve long been intrigued by the Chelsea Hotel and its history with its wide range of artist inhabitants (check out Leonard Cohen singing about fellow resident Janis Joplin in Chelsea Hotel No. 2.) In The Chelsea Girls, we are taken back to the 1940s to 1960s and the lives of Haze

    Whether it’s the Barbizon, the Dakota, Grand Central Terminal or The Chelsea Hotel, Fiona Davis has the great talent of weaving her wonderful stories around some of New York City’s most interesting and iconic landmarks. I’ve long been intrigued by the Chelsea Hotel and its history with its wide range of artist inhabitants (check out Leonard Cohen singing about fellow resident Janis Joplin in Chelsea Hotel No. 2.) In The Chelsea Girls, we are taken back to the 1940s to 1960s and the lives of Hazel Riley and Maxine Mead who met near the end of WWII performing for the USO. After the war, Hazel heads to the famed hotel and soon reunites with Maxine, now a starlet in Hollywood. Hazel has written a play inspired by events during the war and Maxine heads back to NYC with the hope of starring in her friend’s new play. With the Red scare now descending upon Broadway, Hazel is forced to deal with its threat on her dreams and ultimately her friendship with Maxine. What an enjoyable read. Many thanks to Edelweiss, Dutton/Penguin Publishing Group and Ms. Davis for the ARC. (And let’s hope that when the current renovations of the Chelsea Hotel are complete, there will be enough of its former self left for all its ghosts to find their way home.)

  • Tammy

    A haven for artists, musicians, writers, and actors, the iconic Chelsea Hotel provides the backdrop for this fictional account of friendship and McCarthyism. The main characters meet in Naples as USO entertainers during 1945. Their friendship continues into the 1960’s. One becomes a famous movie star while the other becomes a playwright and, at times, both live at the Chelsea. During the Cold War, people in the entertainment suffered blacklisting, unfair allegations and investigations leading to

    A haven for artists, musicians, writers, and actors, the iconic Chelsea Hotel provides the backdrop for this fictional account of friendship and McCarthyism. The main characters meet in Naples as USO entertainers during 1945. Their friendship continues into the 1960’s. One becomes a famous movie star while the other becomes a playwright and, at times, both live at the Chelsea. During the Cold War, people in the entertainment suffered blacklisting, unfair allegations and investigations leading to imprisonment, lost livelihoods, ruined careers and some suicides. How does a friendship survive this sort of persecution?

  • Robert Sheard

    This is a little bit of a departure for Fiona Davis. No dual timeline, and the landmark—the Chelsea Hotel—plays a slightly less crucial role than the landmarks in her previous works. But the examination of McCarthyism and its impact on the theater world is dark and devastating.

  • Sarah

    The Chelsea Girls takes a look at New York landmark the Chelsea Hotel and the devastation to the entertainment industry wrought by the McCarthy era of the 1950s, through the lens of a first time playwright and her best friend/leading actress. The book spans from their meeting in the 40s through to the 60s, told in 3 acts and alternating between Hazel and Maxine's perspectives.

    I thought the witch hunting behaviour of the McCarthy era was well handled, especially what the allegations did to people

    The Chelsea Girls takes a look at New York landmark the Chelsea Hotel and the devastation to the entertainment industry wrought by the McCarthy era of the 1950s, through the lens of a first time playwright and her best friend/leading actress. The book spans from their meeting in the 40s through to the 60s, told in 3 acts and alternating between Hazel and Maxine's perspectives.

    I thought the witch hunting behaviour of the McCarthy era was well handled, especially what the allegations did to people caught up in the grist mill, like Floyd. The Chelsea Hotel of the 1950s sounded like an artistic haven and a fascinating place to live, under David Bard's hectic care. However, I failed to connect with either Hazel or Maxine, they were like paper dolls in a world of fleshed out characters and scenery.

    I would still recommend the book because I think the McCarthy era is an under served part of American history in the historical fiction genre; and also that revisiting this era is important in a time of increasing political divisions and #cancel culture. Davis does a fabulous job immersing the reader in the era and settings, hopefully stronger leading ladies will come her way in the next one.

    Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc for my consideration, in exchange for an honest review.

  • JenRaye

    EDITED

    2.5 stars The Chelsea Girls follows Hazel and Maxine from 1940s Europe, near the end of WWII to the late 1960s New York. The titular Chelsea is a hotel known for its many resident artists of various stripes...both political and professional. The bulk of the story takes place during the 1950s at the height of McCarthyism in the US, which led to the blacklisting of many in the entertainment industry for supposed communist connections. Maxine, an actress on the rise, and Hazel, an understudy

    EDITED

    2.5 stars The Chelsea Girls follows Hazel and Maxine from 1940s Europe, near the end of WWII to the late 1960s New York. The titular Chelsea is a hotel known for its many resident artists of various stripes...both political and professional. The bulk of the story takes place during the 1950s at the height of McCarthyism in the US, which led to the blacklisting of many in the entertainment industry for supposed communist connections. Maxine, an actress on the rise, and Hazel, an understudy turned playwright and director, both residents of the Chelsea, find their lives turned upside down by the fear mongering of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Will their friendship withstand the intense pressure brought to bear on it?

    The early Cold War period and activities of the US government, as the HUAC searched "for a commie under every stone" is not the usual fare for an historical fiction novel. As a student of history, the topic pulled me in right away. The actions of our government during that time both fascinate and appall me. The glimpses the author gives into the HUAC feel realistic and sobering.

    However, as I talked about this book with a friend, I realized that there was much I didn't like...that wasn't fleshed out...necessary backstory left untold...or the need to suspend my disbelief. I finished the conversation with, "I guess I didn't like it as much as I thought I did." I have altered my original review to reflect my thoughts several days removed from finishing the book.

    My thanks to Edelweiss and The Penguin Group for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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