The Barbizon Hotel in New York City is a glamorous place for women where models, secretaries, and editors live while trying to claw their way to success until they can find themselves a husband. The year is 1952 and Darby McLaughlin has arrived at the Barbizon Hotel to stay while she attends Katharine Gibbs secretarial school. But she doesn't fit in and the secretarial work is boring. Darby befriends a maid from the Barbizon and together they hang out in a seedy jazz club called the Flatted Fifth until all hours of the night. But it's not all fun and games for long.
Present day - the Barbizon is no longer a hotel but a condo. Rose Lewin is a journalist living there. She's on the fifth floor while the old women who've lived there since it was a hotel live on the fourth floor. She becomes interested in one woman in particular after she hears a juicy story about Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish back in the 50's. She becomes obsessed with uncovering this woman's past while her own life is falling apart.
I really enjoyed the history of the Barbizon Hotel for women. I liked how that era was brought to life with seedy jazz clubs and fashion and the glitz of the hotel itself. Darby's story was strong and very interesting. Rose's story was interesting when she was trying to uncover Darby's past, otherwise I thought there was a bit much going on but overall it was a good read.