The Chelsea Girls


From Fiona Davis, the nationally bestselling author of The Dollhouse and The Address, the bright lights of the theater district, the glamour and danger of 1950s New York, and the wild scene at the iconic Chelsea Hotel come together in 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.



Praise for The Chelsea Girls

A July LibraryReads Pick

Davis tells a very good story and deserves all the praise she won for her other books set in famous New York landmarks. A onetime actress, she is a ­meticulous researcher who holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. In this novel, her journalistic skills shine — her attention to detail lends a fullness and context to the plotlines and characters. . .What finally emerges from the mix of detailed research and solid writing is a tale that is intricate and subtle, unpredictable and exciting.
The Washington Post
I absolutely adored this book —- from the settings to the friendships, and even the betrayals. It made me angry, it made me sad, and it made me laugh. I can’t ask for more than that.
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
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. The Chelsea Girls is a masterfully crafted story of a bond between two women that is strong enough to overcome the heartache of war, the pressures of fame, and the gut-wrenching betrayal that accompanies dangerous secrets. 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 glamor and a well-shaken cocktail.
— Julia Kelly, award-winning author of The Light Over London
The glitz and glamour of the Chelsea Hotel provides a perfect backdrop for Davis’s story of friendship, ambition and behind-the-scenes theatrical intrigue. Hazel and Maxine are complex characters struggling with conflicting questions of loyalty, love and professional success in a turbulent time. Their story is both a sharp-eyed commentary on female friendship and a vivid glimpse into the life of a New York City icon.
Shelf Awareness
With a story that blends the bright lights of the theater district, the allure of 1950s New York, and the iconic Chelsea Hotel, Davis weaves a decades-long friendship between two women that changes both their lives.
Palm Beach Post, Best Summer Reading
The theme of McCarthyism threads through this intricately woven novel, which highlights the politics of 1950s Broadway. ... It’s a fascinating and at times heartbreaking look at an era in which lives were upended and careers derailed.
— Christian Science Monitor
Another spectacular novel. . .Davis needs to be celebrated for this. Sure, she gets the history right and does a magnificent job of bringing the Chelsea’s special magic to life. Beyond that, she is an exquisite writer, who captures the essence of people and times.
Newark Star Ledger
Fiona Davis tackles a new place and time with historical accuracy and a plot full of surprises.
Davis, who has given juicy supporting roles to New York landmarks in The Masterpiece and The Address, uses Chelsea as a metaphor for the grandeur that was within reach but spirals into a much darker place.
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
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
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
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
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
A satisfying read about the bonds between women.
— Brenda Janowitz, POPSUGAR