Beat the Arizona sun by staying inside and curling up with one of our trendy reading picks this month.
1. The Dollhouse – Novel by Fiona Davis
Fiona Davis’s debut novel, “The Dollhouse,” is a nostalgic tribute to mid-century New York City, combining both mystery and romance. It features the famed Barbizon Hotel whose noted residents included Grace Kelly, Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath; among others. The Barbizon Hotel for Women housed aspiring models, secretarial students and editors – all hoping for fairy-tail success. The hotel was akin to a college dorm; with strict curfews, parental hours, draconian dress codes and rules of comportment. It was a Godsend for well-to-do parents who were reluctant to unleash their daughters in Manhattan.
Darby McLaughlin arrives at the Barbizon from a small Ohio town: plain, self- conscious, homesick and convinced she cannot measure up to the beautiful models on her floor. Darby has strict orders from her mother to excel at the Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School. While struggling to adjust and succeed; she is befriended by Esme, a maid at the Barbizon. Life then takes an exciting turn for Darby. She is introduced to a new side of New York; the sounds of bebop, heroin usage and a blossoming love affair. But tragedy intervenes at the Barbizon. What is the identity of the victim? Was it murder, suicide or an accident? A modern-day sleuth, now living at the present-day condoized Barbizon, is determined to unravel the mysteries. Twists and turns are interwoven to create a good old-fashioned suspense novel.
2. Hidden Ones: A Veil of Memories – Book by Marcia Fine
Award-winning novelist and Scottsdale resident Marcia Fine has released her seventh book and fourth historical fiction novel “Hidden Ones: A Veil of Memories.” In Mexico, Peru and Columbia; the Inquisition was in operation from 1649 to 1854. Jews and Protestants who practiced Catholicism, called “Cisneros” in public, but practiced their religion in secret were punished with imprisonment and death at the stake by the authorities of the Church and local governments. Hundreds of thousands were victimized, tortured and killed. This is the fictionalized story of one Jewish family, the Crispins whose grandmother, Clara, is imprisoned and tortured for five years. Her granddaughter; Celedaria, approaching womanhood, is also under suspicion and imprisoned. Their stories are told in alternating chapters. On Friday nights, the drapes are closed, candles lit, Jewish texts brought out from secret hiding and Seders furtively led. Celedaria is looking forward to marriage and is betrothed to a fellow Cisnero. When Clara is finally released due to a large bribe, the entire family dares discovery in attempting escape northward to New Mexico, a safer and more politically liberal area. The author has researched the culture of the era; including the cuisine, farming practices and family occupation. She details their strengths and endurance in this period of extreme religious intolerance. Based on transcripts from the inquisition and records from Southwest Territories, this book details one of the most obscure and dramatic episodes in Mexican and Jewish history. A great read for those who want to learn more about religious persecution and its long-term effects.