The sight of a child teetering on the window ledge of Room 510 turned Sara’s world upside down.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota—New York City’s most famous residence.
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.
MY THOUGHTS: Just like ‘The Dollhouse’, ‘The Address’ had me spellbound for most of its telling.
Although Davis has bent the historical facts a little to fit her timeline, most of the major events backgrounding this story actually happened, just not when they happened in the novel. I am more than prepared to forgive her this.
The Address is told over two timelines, beginning in 1884 and 1984. The characters in the two times couldn’t be more different. 1884 – Sara is a hard working young woman determined not to repeat her mother’s mistakes. 1984 – Bailey has tumbled ignominiously from the peak of her career and is trying to claw her way back up. Sara is kind-hearted and eager to please. Bailey has been selfish and pleasure seeking, and is now trying to find her feet, playing by a whole new set of rules.
Davis had me unsuccessfully trying to figure out the connection between these two women. The answer, when it came, was unexpected but brilliant. And perhaps that is where the book should have ended, but it didn’t. At this point, I would have awarded it very close to 5-stars. But it went on to tie everything up very neatly into an almost fairytale like ending which, for me, somewhat spoiled the ambience.
I see Fiona Davis has a new novel being released later this year, The Masterpiece. I will be first in line for it. She is a magnificent story teller.
I listened to The Address by Fiona Davis, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld and Brittany Pressley and published by Penguin Audio via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.
This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2310913425