The Chelsea Girls: Book summary and reviews of The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

The Chelsea Girls

by Fiona Davis

The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis X
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2019
    368 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

A dazzling new novel about the twenty-year friendship that will irrevocably change two women's lives.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Featuring vibrant, witty characters who not only weather but thrive in a dark period of American history, Davis's tale of one friendship's strength will stun and satisfy readers." - Publishers Weekly

"This novel in three acts brings to vivid life the McCarthy era and its impact on the entertainment industry in a heartbreaking tale of the friendship of two brave women." - Library Journal

"A forced effort to leverage interest around the legendary Chelsea Hotel, this novel is a miss." - Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating and wholly immersive celebration of friendship, love, loyalty, and courage during a turbulent and often underrepresented period in American history, The Chelsea Girls will delight. Davis brings her setting to life as she whisks readers away to the iconic Chelsea Hotel and the theater world during the McCarthy era. Richly detailed and transporting, historical fiction fans will love this one!" - Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of When We Left Cuba

"The Chelsea Girls is an entirely delightful example of Fiona Davis's inventive and winning approach to historical fiction. The dazzling allure of Broadway, the devastating consequences of McCarthyism, the delights of the legendary Chelsea Hotel, and above all the decades-long friendship of Hazel and Maxine—Davis weaves these narrative threads into a memorable, affecting and marvelously entertaining novel." - Jennifer Robson, internationally bestselling author of The Gown

"In her most impressive and ambitious novel yet, Davis has given us an expertly plotted and emotional tale of the aftermath of war, the insidious way that fear-mongering can divide us, and the unexpected ways that art brings us together...This is one of the most powerful and moving stories of female friendship I have ever read." - Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Wartime Sisters

"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 glamour and a well-shaken cocktail." - Julia Kelly, award-winning author of The Light Over London

"The Chelsea Girls is the thoroughly engrossing story of an authentic and complex female friendship under the intense pressures of the Cold War. Replete with international secrets and theatrical triumphs, it sings with the nuances, trials, and celebrations of real friendship in the darkest of times. A must-read for you and your best friends!" - Kerri Maher, author of The Kennedy Debutante

"We all want friends like 'the Chelsea girls.' A winning mix of historic challenges and enduring ties between two remarkable women makes Fiona Davis's latest novel a must-read." - Stephanie Barron, author of That Churchill Woman

"A spell-binding tale of a decades-long friendship between two talented women, presented against a backdrop of political conspiracy, infused with the glamour of Hollywood and Broadway, and set in that ramshackle headquarters of New York bohemia, the iconic Chelsea Hotel. In The Chelsea Girls, the spirits of America's mid-century arts scene rise up to frolic again. Brava!" - Sherill Tippins, author of Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel

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Reader Reviews

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Betty Taylor

Living during McCarthyism
I loved this book! Strong female friendships, history, intrigue, romance, conflicting loyalties – Davis covers it all. And if you have problem following the dual timelines, this book does not do that. While presented with the alternating perspectives of Hazel and Maxine, the superb character development makes all the characters very real to the reader.

Hazel and Maxine meet in 1945 while they are both on a USO tour and quickly become fast friends. When the war is over Hazel and Maxine go their separate ways. But then in 1950 they reunite when Maxine, now a Hollywood starlet, moves to NYC and joins playwright Hazel at the Chelsea Hotel. Both seem destined for success until McCarthyism and accusations of being a Communist shake up the entertainment industry. Davis perfectly captures the sense of fear and intimidation that existed at that time.

I highly recommend this excellent book. This book was given to me by the publisher but all opinions are my own.

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
What a fun, interesting place The Chelsea Hotel must have been.

Hazel was in a family of performers, but Hazel wasn’t a performer. Hazel was a playwright.

We meet Hazel when she was on tour with the USO during the war. Hazel met many actors and became friends with them.

We follow Hazel as she moves out of her childhood home and into The Chelsea Hotel during the McCarthy Era. When her friend, Maxine, from the USO moves in too, their friendship is renewed.

The description of the hotel's decorations, the secret places and passages in it, and the furnishings was fascinating. The impeccable research Ms. Davis had to do definitely shows. I had do a bit of googling of the hotel myself. :)

History buffs and theater goers will again be treated to a very descriptive story line that has Ms. Davis taking you back in time.

I do have to say THE CHELSEA GIRLS was a bit tedious to read, but I loved the history of the hotel and its inhabitants. The characters in the book were believable and most were likable.

The ending was satisfying and nicely wrapped up the story line..

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Author Information

Fiona Davis

Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of The Dollhouse, The Address, and The Masterpiece. She lives in New York City and is a graduate of the College of William & Mary in Virginia and the Columbia Journalism School.

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