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The Address: A Novel by Fiona Davis
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The Address: A Novel (2017)

by Fiona Davis

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Have you ever read a synopsis of a book, anticipated the release of the book just so you could devour it in mere hours? That was my anticipation level waiting to read “The Address”.

Description

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.

What a promising set up! And yet, as I was reading, I was having trouble staying into the book! It’s as if I needed to take a break every 2-5% (kindle reader). I also work up beautiful Instagram quotes, and found that inspiration was few and far between.
While I’ve been enjoying historical fiction this year, and am accustomed to jumping timelines, I wish his particular book would have stayed historical fiction, and expand on the real story. To me, and I know I may be an unpopular opinion, it felt as though the 1985 timeline was just used as a filler- little to no content value whatsoever.
As unexcited I was to read/finish this book, that’s about my level of interest writing this blog post as well. That’s a pretty crappy thing to say! What’s even crappier, is that this was the first book this year that I actually thought to stop reading and place in the “Did Not Finish” pile. . . although, there is no pile, but this book would certainly start it.
As far as a recommendation, I cannot recommend this book. I found it completely dull, at times there was great imagery, but few and far between and certainly not enough to carry on throughout the entirety. Believe me, there are other, more well written historical fiction books you can immerse yourself in. ( )
  mspoet569 | Aug 18, 2018 |
I enjoyed the fact that the Dakota was and still is a real building, and I enjoyed the history portion of it. Through most of the novel, however, I didn't care for any of the characters. There are two different time frames in the book, when the building was first opened as apartments in 1885 and when it is being renovated 100 years later. Sara and Theo are in the first time period, and Bailey and Melinda are in the later time. By the end of the novel, I only liked one of the three and frankly could care less about the others. Still, the twist at the end made the book much more interesting. I even went back and reread some sections to clarify some things. It was good to read about something I knew nothing about. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Aug 13, 2018 |
“The Address”, the legendary Dakota apartment building in NYC, is the star of this intricate mystery that's told through dual timelines. The first is set in 1885, shortly after The Dakota opened, and the second is a hundred years later when it was still recovering from the notoriety of John Lennon’s murder. I have to say parts of the story were far-fetched and several characters’ actions seemed to come out of left field. But I got caught up in the drama and enjoyed it all the same. ( )
  wandaly | May 10, 2018 |
I live in a high rise condo in Bethesda, Maryland, largely based on the exterior of The Dakota, so I found this book very interesting inasmuch as Davis stuck to the facts of the how, when, and why of the construction of the building. It certainly read as though much research of the times went into the writing (hence the Bly connection).

The main plot (spoiler alert) moves between the historical time and more current times, which is not a favorite style I appreciate much, but Davis does work hard at it. ( )
  kaulsu | May 10, 2018 |
Not only did I find this book extremely interesting but want to read more from Fiona Davis. She had me looking up all kinds of old and new pictures of the building where this book takes place. I will remember this book. ( )
  TeresaChristensen | May 8, 2018 |
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For Caitlin, Erin, and Lauren
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The sight of a child teetering on the window ledge of room 510 turned Sara's world upside down.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 152474199X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 26 Mar 2017 01:30:36 -0400)

"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. In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. 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 and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe. 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."--… (more)

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