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Publisher's Summary

From award-winning author Paulina Bren comes the “captivating portrait” (The Wall Street Journal) of New York’s most famous residential hotel - The Barbizon - and the remarkable women who lived there.

Welcome to New York’s legendary hotel for women.

Liberated from home and hearth by World War I, politically enfranchised and ready to work, women arrived to take their place in the dazzling new skyscrapers of Manhattan. But they did not want to stay in uncomfortable boarding houses. They wanted what men already had - exclusive residential hotels with maid service, workout rooms, and private dining.

Built in 1927, at the height of the Roaring Twenties, the Barbizon Hotel was designed as a luxurious safe haven for the “Modern Woman” hoping for a career in the arts. Over time, it became the place to stay for any ambitious young woman hoping for fame and fortune. Sylvia Plath fictionalized her time there in The Bell Jar, and, over the years, it’s almost 700 tiny rooms with matching floral curtains and bedspreads housed, among many others, Titanic survivor Molly Brown; actresses Grace Kelly, Liza Minnelli, Ali MacGraw, Jaclyn Smith; and writers Joan Didion, Gael Greene, Diane Johnson, Meg Wolitzer. Mademoiselle magazine boarded its summer interns there, as did Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School its students and the Ford Modeling Agency its young models. Before the hotel’s residents were household names, they were young women arriving at the Barbizon with a suitcase and a dream.

Not everyone who passed through the Barbizon’s doors was destined for success - for some, it was a story of dashed hopes - but until 1981, when men were finally let in, the Barbizon offered its residents a room of their own and a life without family obligations. It gave women a chance to remake themselves however they pleased; it was the hotel that set them free. No place had existed like it before or has since.

“Poignant and intriguing” (The New Republic), The Barbizon weaves together a tale that has, until now, never been told. It is both a vivid portrait of the lives of these young women looking for something more and a “brilliant many-layered social history of women’s ambition and a rapidly changing New York through the 20th century” (The Guardian).

©2021 Paulina Bren. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

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What listeners say about The Barbizon

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A Very Enjoyable Non Fiction, Mostly Easy Listening

I completely enjoyed this audiobook. This is a non fiction that is clearly written in modern conversational American English. I was able to follow this book on audiobook comfortably. I do wish to mention the are photographs and notes on Kindle that added to my enjoyment of this book.

However some audiobooks are easier reading / listening experiences than others. This is a relatively easy listening experience. as far as content, I also enjoyed this book. It is about an all women hotel in N.Y.C. that was visited by many iconic American Women. It may not be of interest to every reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank You....

9 people found this helpful

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Loved this book

The history of women and the world in the US is told through the history and amazing stories of the Barbizon Hotel . I learned so much about Mademoiselle magazine and the women who came to NYC every June from all over the country . Loved this book. Loved the history . Without being hardcore the book demonstrates what Women of every decade had to endure just to make it, while the white men ( I am a 45 year old white Man ) got away with it all ! Loved this story. I miss the pre Covid NYC even more. Remember going out for drinks and dancing ? Aww the memories !

6 people found this helpful

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Who Knew??

I loved this book and the story behind the Barbizon. If those wall could talk! I had no idea.

4 people found this helpful

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"Building" the women's movement

I struggled with the narrator's voice. It was too robotic. No life. Interesting how the hotel was used to revisit the women's movement.

4 people found this helpful

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Interesting story but hard to follow

I finished the book because I was curious how it ended. I wasn't expecting so many vignettes of different Barbizon guests, and they became hard to follow. The book was hyper focused on Mademoiselle magazine and Sylvia Plath. I did like how they correlated changing times to changing guests in the hotel, even though the hotel remained unchanged for many decades. It's definitely an interesting and notable part of history.

2 people found this helpful

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things i never knew

good history of eras before my time enjoyable and entertaining
im a new yorker si this was fun fir me

2 people found this helpful

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Perfect

I loooooved this book. I’m an architectural historian who has also studied women’s and social history and I happen to love New York so, for me, the subject matter was perfect. The book had good pacing, the individual stories and anecdotes were interesting and flowed seamlessly, the narrator’s voice was pleasant. I was sad when this book ended, which is extremely rare. I could’ve kept listening to more stories about the Barbizon Hotel and its occupants.

1 person found this helpful

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Great narration

Amazing story. We need more stories about real women's histories narrated by women! Thank you!

1 person found this helpful

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Nostalgic

So interesting to view the changes taking place with life and times and the character of the building itself. The names of residents gives familiarity and reality of our aging along with the life and times of the story. Perhaps this is the reason I found the audio a bit muffled. Nice voice and inflections but wish it came through a little sharper for me.

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Exceeded all my expectations

A fascinating recap of the Barbizon history, particularly for those of us who were bred, raised and still live in New York.

1 person found this helpful