Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Address

Title:  The Address
Author:  Fiona Davis
Publication Information:  Dutton. 2017. 368 pages.
ISBN:  152474199X / 78-1524741990

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The sight of a child teetering on the window ledge of room 510 turned Sara's world upside down."

Favorite Quote:  "Sometimes we don't know the answer."

Two women. Two time period. One city. One beautiful old building. A past that dreams of a future. A present that looks to the past for answers. A host of intrigue and secrets that connects all of it. A book that tells both stories in alternating sections, winding them closer and closer together until by the end, all the connections are revealed, and the story of the past ends, and the story of the present finds a path forward. This is structure used by many books including Fiona Davis's book The Dollhouse, and it usually makes for an entertaining story.

In this book, the past is Sara Smythe in the 1880s. She works in a London hotel and cares for her ill mother. Life seems to hold no further prospects. A chance encounter offers her the opportunity to start a new life in the United States. She comes to New York, starts over, and her life goes in a direction she could never have imagined.

The story of the present is Bailey Camden in 1984. She is recovering party girl just out of rehab. Her issues have cost her friends and her job. Life seems to hold very few prospects. Her wealthy cousin Melinda's bounty offers her a chance to start over. She takes it, and it puts her on a path she could never have imagined.

See the parallels yet?

What first draws the two stories together is the location. Located at the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park West in Manhattan, the Dakota is a co-op apartment building considered one of New York's best addresses. In fact, it was the once home to John Lennon and the location of his death. However, when it was built in 1884, it was purposefully named The Dakota because its location was considered as remote to the main sections of Manhattan as the far-off Dakota Territories.

Sara comes to the Dakota in 1884 when the project architect Theodore Camden offers her a job at the Dakota. Theodore Camden is also Melinda and Bailey's grandfather. Melinda is descended from the children Theodore Camden claimed with his wife. Bailey is the daughter of a child Theodore and his wife raised. The Camden estate belongs to the direct descendants, leaving Bailey with the name but no inheritance.

The story continues to weave back and forth as Sara sets up the new building, and Bailey works on a project to remodel one of the units. Secondary characters and romances enter in the picture. Underlying it all is the history and grandeur of the building itself. Through Sara's eyes, the reader sees the initial construction and decor, and through Bailey's eyes, the reader witnesses the attempts to preserve that history and the destruction of that initial vision in the name of modernization.

As with most books such as this one, one time period calls to me more. In this case, Sara's story is the more compelling one, given the plot and the historical richness of the time period. Overall the book is an entertaining story and an intriguing look inside a landmark building.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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