The Address
by Fiona Davis


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.  Read more...

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More About The Address by Fiona Davis

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.

  • ISBN-13: 9781524741990
  • ISBN-10: 152474199X
  • Publisher: Dutton Books
  • Publish Date: August 2017
  • Page Count: 368
  • Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.25 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General
Books > Fiction > Mystery & Detective - General
Books > Fiction > Literary

BookPage Reviews

If these walls could talk

The Dakota is a notorious, castle-like building on 72nd Street off Manhattan’s Central Park—but 130 years ago, this location was the muddy middle of nowhere. Fiona Davis’ The Address is the story of two women a century apart whose tumultuous lives become part of the Dakota’s sometimes unhappy history. Even John Lennon figures into it.

The novel begins in 1884, when Sara Smythe is brought from London to New York City to be the “manageress” of this brand-new but remote apartment building. In 1985, Bailey Camden is the poor, not-quite relation of the Camdens, who now own the Dakota. Having been tossed out of her interior decorating gig, Bailey gets a job renovating her cousin Melinda’s apartment, transforming it from fusty Edwardian to Barbie beach house. Melinda, a deliciously nasty piece of work, wants green plastic drawer pulls. It’s dispiriting.

Yet dispiriting isn’t the word when it comes to the fate of Sara, who falls in love with the Dakota’s designer. Theodore Camden is a man with three cherubic children and an unhappy wife—but you only think you know what happens next. Davis knows how to twist a plot.

With her nimble writing style, Davis makes pithy commentary on gender, social and economic inequality in both eras. In the earlier setting, one fallen woman is carted off to an insane asylum, while another retains her status by dint of being in a respectable marriage. In 1985, Melinda dismisses servants without a second thought and treats Bailey just a little bit better.

This thought-provoking book makes you wonder what Edith Wharton would have made of these Camdens and pseudo-Camdens. Thankfully, Davis is here to tell us.


This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews