I loved Fiona Davis’ debut novel, THE DOLLHOUSE about New York City’s famous hotel, Barbizon. So imagine how thrilled I was to hear about her new novel, THE ADDRESS (Dutton), which goes inside the walls of THE DAKOTA, one of New York City’s infamous buildings on the Upper Westside. Once again, Davis returns with a compelling novel about love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota, home to rich and famous, since it’s opening in the late 18-hundreds.
We got to catch up with Fiona in May at BookExpo where she was autographing her new novel, THE ADDRESS and we have one signed copy to giveaway to one lucky THOUGHTS ON THIS ‘N THAT follower.
It’s 1884, and Sara Smythe has worked her way up to a job, beyond her dreams. She’s head housekeeper of a posh London hotel. In a chance encounter, she meets one of the architects of The Dakota, Theodore Camden. He offers her the position of female manager of The Dakota. It’s a job that will take her across the pond, to America, where she pictures her life soaring even higher. In addition to her new position of overseeing nearly forty servants, she’ll be able to see more of Theo, who lives at The Dakota with his three children.
One hundred years later, Bailey Camden, former party girl about town and interior designer is fresh out of rehab and finds herself penniless. She catches up with her “cousin,” Melinda Camden who offers her a position to oversee the renovations of The Dakota. Bailey’s great-grandfather was a ward of the famed Theodore Camden, but with no proof, she won’t see a dime of the family’s estate. Bailey doesn’t agree with Melinda’s vision for The Dakota, thinking it will rob the building of much of its character, but she immediately takes the position.
Sara and Bailey’s stories are one hundred years apart, but both engage in the magic and opulence of The Dakota. For Sara, it was a world ruled by New York’s High society, including the Astor’s and Vanderbilt’s. For Bailey, it’s the heyday of the 80’s, drugs, sex and rock and roll. The Dakota’s walls hold secrets, but they can’t be kept quiet forever. Bailey makes a discovery about Theodore and Sara in the basement that could change everything she thought she knew about her family, and ultimately the course of her future.
It’s obvious Davis has done her research and delivered an accurate fact-filled novel. The characters are compelling, with precious shadings of detail. Her prose are lyrical and read like a beautiful summer day. Whether you’re a New Yorker or not, after you read, THE ADDRESS, you will feel as if you’ve been introduced to another dimension of one of the world’s greatest cities and its history.
F I O N A was born in Canada and raised in New Jersey, Utah, and Texas. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After ten years, Fiona changed careers, working as an editor and writer, and her historical fiction debut, THE DOLLHOUSE was published in 2016. She’s a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and lives in New York City.
We have one signed copy of THE ADDRESS to giveaway to one lucky winner. Just tell us what you love best about New York City. We’ll announce a winner next week.
On a personal note, I was living in New York City when John Lennon was shot and killed outside his home in THE DAKOTA. I remember thousands of us standing across the street in Central Park’s, where the memorial, Strawberry Fields would eventually be dedicated to Lennon’s memory. We were in shock that someone so peaceful could die in such a brutal manner. The heavy security into the building was always heavy because so many wealthy and famous people lived there, but THE DAKOTA has became an armed fortress.