Monday, December 14, 2020

Book Review: The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis

Goodreads Summary: 

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.

Tee's Review:

I have always been fascinated with the Chelsea Hotel, there is so much history there from musicians and poets who lived there to the death of Nancy Spungen supposedly by her boyfriend Sid Vicious.

The new book Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis deals with the iconic hotel in the ’50s when Maxine Mead, an actress, and Hazel Riley, a playwright meet up again at the hotel. They had met on a USO tour during WWII. McCarthyism was at its height in the entertainment industry during the ’50s and it finds its way into Fiona and Maxine’s life.

I loved the characters in Chelsea Girls, Maxine and Hazel are both authentic and relatable as were most of the characters in the story. The glamour of New York and the theater is written beautifully, as well as the entirety of the hotel, which seems like just another character in the story.

This historical novel makes me wish even more, that I could have experienced the iconic Chelsea in its prime, but it also gave me a glimpse into a period of history I know very little about. Chelsea Hotel is a must-read if you like historical novels or New York.

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