Friday, July 21, 2017

{Review} THE ADDRESS by Fiona Davis

Summary from Goodreads:

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.



Mandy's Review:


Y'all, I am a little blown away by this book. First of all, it has one of the things I love the most in a novel: two time lines from two different centuries but they're connected in some way. Secondly, this story does not play out in all of the ways you think it will.

I. LOVE. That.

Our experience begins by getting to know Sara and the situation she's in. She was formerly a seamstress who left her position after having a run-in with her boss' husband ... who was a little handsy. When she left there, she went to work at a fancy London hotel working her way up to head housekeeper. While in that position, she notices one of her guests' child getting ready to climb up on an open windowsill, about four or five stories up. Sara runs to the room and pulls the little girl off the ledge just in the nick of time. Her heroic act garners her a job offer at a new hotel being built in New York.

Sara is unsure about traveling across the pond to an unknown territory and starting her life over. Then she looks at her mother and considers the life her mother has had ... and that decides things for Sara.

Fast forward to the fabulous 80's and we meet Bailey, an alcoholic and drug user fresh out of rehab. Bailey is bound and determined to start her life anew but there's a problem. All of her old friends are all users and there's NO WAY Bailey can be around those people or she'll be using again in no time. With only one option left, Bailey contacts her cousin Melinda, future heiress to the Camden fortune.

As Bailey helps Melinda remodel the Dakota, she gets to learn about the history of the place and falls more in love with it in the process.

I don't want to tell you everything that goes on but just know this book has everything. Love, desire (more implied or insinuated - it's very clean, no vulgarity), mystery, intrigue, twists, turns, ups, downs ... this is truly a roller coaster ride that I will gladly ride again and again. It is VERY rare when a book surprises me and gives me something I wasn't expecting. This novel did that and more.

In case you couldn't tell ... this is a 5 stars out of 5 for me. Brava, Ms. Davis! Brava.


*A physical ARC of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

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