From the author of The Dollhouse and The Masterpiece comes the compelling national bestselling 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. 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 for Sara Smythe, her world is suddenly awash in possibility--no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America. The opportunity to be the female manager of the Dakota. 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. One hundred years later, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities: Fresh out of rehab, the former interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Bailey's grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden, yet 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 of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in...and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum--a madwoman named Sara Smythe. A century 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 nightlife's free-flowing drinks and cocaine--and take refuge in the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich, and often as tragic, as the Dakota's can't hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers inside could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden--and the woman who killed him--on its head.
- ISBN-13: 9781524741990
- ISBN-10: 152474199X
- Publisher: American Book Company
- Publish Date: December 2019
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.