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  • Fabulous!

    As always, Fiona Davis delivers in this startling story about life post-WWII in the theater industry in NYC. This was a time when the FBI and USA government was going crazy about finding the infiltrating communists. So much so that they accused innocent people and ruined many people's lives. Davis does a fabulous job of telling this story. The Chelsea Hotel Yes it's a real place. And yes it hosted many celebrities and artists (of all kinds) over the years. I love the little drops of descriptions during the book that are clearly famous people you likely know; but Davis doesn't use their names as our (fictional) characters don't know these celebs at this time. This hotel is noted for many crazy events; but perhaps most famous for being where Sid Vicious (of the Sex Pistols) is said to have murdered Nancy Spungen in the 1970's. I love how Davis always chooses a prominent, historical building to feature in her stories. In this case the Chelsea Hotel feels like a character at times. As though the hotel is living, breathing, and dictating people's lives. Is it fate or the hotel pushing who ends up in an elevator together and/or who chooses to stay overnight? I love the drama of it and the mystery it creates. "The Chelsea Hotel. A 'she', like a lumbering redbrick ship filled with foolish dreamers," Fiction vs Truth As with so many historical books these days the core story and characters are fiction; but a lot of truth is incorporated. Davis describes her inspirations at the back of the book and gives a fulsome list of resources she used to research the historical events and people of the time. For me nothing felt off, although the communist hunt is not something I know about super well. What is important in the end is that the stories of our fictional characters could be 100% true and are certainly truthful in many ways. And of course the power struggles, greed, and selfishness of those with even a tiny bit of power are still very true today. "The world is run by men who want power, who will say anything to attain it, and do anything to retain it." Scary Truths, Even for Today As I type this it is March 23, 2020 and we are in the midst of the COVID-19 virus crisis with no known 'end' in sight. Civil liberties are being taken away from many as areas lock down all unnecessary movement in entire countries! The slippery slope mentioned in the quote below certainly rang true to me; as governments are making the best decisions they can in this unknown playing field. I imagine this is not unlike the choice by many European countries to surrendered to the Nazis in WWII or when to enter into another war (the Korean War is mentioned a number of times). And it's certainly true that people were hunted down for being suspected communists, detained unjustly with no actual evidence, and pressured into false confessions during this time. All pieces of the story Davis touches on; and all possible scary realities that may be in our (not so) near future. "Of course, she had nothing to hide. But it was the principle of the matter, the slippery slope into censorship, that irked her to no end." Overall I believe I would have loved this book irregardless of what is happening in the world today. It was just 'luck' that it came up for me to read at this moment. The Chelsea Girls felt like the perfect read to draw parallels between then and now; but also gave a sense of security. I don't believe agents are banging on doors accusing people unfairly of treason in Canada and so at least one piece of the past will hopefully not repeat itself. The Cold War saw many things happen that would have been unthinkable prior to WWII; and today is no different. We are always living in unprecedented times. The thing about history is that we should ensure we pay attention and learn from it. The below quote really resonated with me in the end; even though I believe lock downs are the only way to fight the virus it is a sobering thought that we have reached this point in 2020. "We must promise to be vigilant against our own worst tendencies. Only by doing so will our country sustain it's ideals of freedom." "Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review."

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  • Historical Suspense Romance Fiction

    The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis is Historical Fiction with romance, spies, intrigue, politics, suspense, friendship and betrayal. The story starts out in World War II with American‘s fighting the national socialists of Germany. The story continues into the 1950‘s with the fight against the communist socialists from Russia stealing our technological secrets. It ends in the late 1960‘s with the effect on the characters lives caused by the socialist spies, the overzealous prosecution by the anti-socialists and by each person manipulating others to accomplish what they desire. I enjoyed the book especially because of all the historical information. At first the story seemed to be a slow starter but then the action started revealing more with each intriguing plot. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Edelweiss. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I appreciate the opportunity and thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read, enjoy and review this book.

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  • The Chelsea Girls

    I loved this book. I had always been fascinated by the glamour of the Chelsea Hotel and all the famous people who stayed there and some who lived there. I remember the Communist witch hunts and the lives it destroyed.... the author brought it all alive. Thank you

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  • Engaging historical novel

    The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis takes us back in time with Hazel Ripley and Maxine Mead. From 1945 through the late 1960s we join Hazel and Maxine on their journeys. Hazel joined the USO in 1945 to finally get a chance to be on stage instead of being an understudy. She meets Maxine Mead in Italy where she is the star performer of their all-female troupe. A terrible incident forms a bond between the ladies that aids them in their careers. The Chelsea Hotel in New York City is a haven for creative types (writers, artists, musicians, actors, singers, etc.). Hazel ends up at the Chelsea Hotel in 1950 when she needs a place to write a play that is bursting to come out. Maxine needs an escape from California and soon joins her. Hazel’s play is about to be produced when communism rears its ugly head and FBI agents are patrolling the Great White Way. The 1950s is not the best time to be in the entertainment industry as Senator McCarthy begins his witch hunt for communists. Many careers are ruined in McCarthy’s search. I thought The Chelsea Girls was well-written with developed characters. The author provides detailed descriptions which brings the characters and scenes to life. The pacing was gentle which went with the story. I like how the author made the Chelsea a character. It became a living and breathing entity. We get to know its history of the establishment along with the various characters who have lived and worked there. I enjoyed the variety of intriguing and lively characters that inhabited the hotel. It was interesting learning more about Broadway and how a play comes to life. Fiona Davis captured the time period along the feelings of the people being questioned and persecuted by McCarthy. The emotions poured from the pages. It was fascinating to read about this time period. It is not an era that is usually addressed in fiction. I liked that there was a good twist later in the book. We get to see two women whose friendship is tested during a tumultuous time. I do not want to say too much and spoil the story for you. The Chelsea Girls is a complex novel that transports readers to New York City during the 1950s and early 1960s. I am curious where Fiona Davis will take us next time.

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  • Broadway Lives in a Turbulent Era

    This book follows the lives of two women from USO entertainers in WWII to NYC theatre and through the blacklisting of the 1950s. It is an honest look at life in such a different era. These women had to struggle for work in writing and directing the plays as well as trying to get good roles without the casting couch. The Red Scare and blacklisting affected several generations of artists from all areas. The author takes an honest look at all of this using the Chelsea Hotel as a backdrop. The Chelsea was an artist's oasis almost since it was built. It was a secluded home for rising stars in all areas. A place where they were left alone to learn their lines, write the lines, paint the pictures, or compose their masterpieces. The book in an intriguing look at the history, a glimpse into life as it was. I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.

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