Sunday, July 2, 2017
Review - The Address by Fiona Davis
After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she’d make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility—no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one’s station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else...and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children.
In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won’t see a dime of the Camden family’s substantial estate. Instead, her “cousin” Melinda—Camden’s biological great-granddaughter—will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda’s vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in...and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island.
One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages—for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City—and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side’s gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich—and often tragic—as The Dakota’s can’t hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden—and the woman who killed him—on its head.
With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives—and lies—of the beating hearts within.
What a beautifully written story. I would have to say that this is one of my favorites for 2017. Fiona captured the essence of the time period of 1885 and 1986 perfectly and I loved how the characters melded together.
I love historical fiction and a storyabout a piece of history that is alive and well in NYC, The Dakota. It will be a must see stop on my next trip to the city!
Sarah Smythe, after a chance meeting with Theodore Camden, is offered a job in America to work as a managerette at The Dakota. She jumps at the chance and leaves for America immediately to begin her new life.
Fast forward to 1985 - Bailey Camden is trying to find her way again after a rehab stay due to drugs and alcohol. She has lost her job at amazing interior designer in the city and has hit rock bottom. Then she is given the chance to redesign the Dakota for her cousin Melinda. She jumps at the chance and accepts the roof over her head.
As she works, Bailey (and Renzo) are finding out more and more about Sara Smythe and Theodore Camden. Between the affairs, the incarceration for stealing of Sara Smythe on Blackwell Island and so many more pieces, Bailey is truly starting to reconsider who her true family is and where Theodore Camden falls into the equation.
Through the ups and downs of The Dakota, Bailey Camden, Sara Smythe, Theodore Camden - you will be able to paint a clear picture of love, hate, demise, murder and family.
A Southern Comfort Manhattan seems like a fitting drink to pair with this book!
Fiona Davis was born in Canada and raised in New Jersey, Utah, and Texas. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After ten years, she changed careers, working as an editor and writer, and her historical fiction debut, THE DOLLHOUSE, was published in 2016. She's a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is based in New York City.
I can't give enough praise for The Address! Five wine glasses all the way! I can't wait to read more of Fiona's books!