The Address: Book Review by Arlene.
The Address by Fiona Davis, opens in London 1884. Sara Smythe, at the age of 30, after toiling as a maid, has worked her way up to being the head housekeeper at London’s Langham Hotel only a month prior to obtaining the position of housekeeper. In the position of head housekeeper, Sara was in charge of many tasks and she was also in charge of all the maids in the large London hotel. Sara was called and was known as Mrs. Smythe. I felt this was an interesting tidbit of information of the time period in England’s history that no head housekeeper could be called a Miss. That was not proper!!
On a hot sunny afternoon in June, Sara returned to her office and had gone to the window for some breeze only to see one floor below the courtyard, a young girl of about 3 years of age on the ledge of a window sill. Sara observes the situation and decides no one in the girl’s apartment is coming to see about the little girl so she dashes out and gets to the apartment just in time to grab the child and pull her back into the apartment.
The girl’s mother enters the apartment and after realizing what has just occurred, thanks Sara for saving her little girl. The woman’s husband, Theodore Camden, learns of Sara saving his daughter. He is the famed architect of the Dakota Hotel in New York City which is soon to open. He learns of Sara’s position in the Langham Hotel and offers Sara a position of managerette at the Dakota to help him with the upcoming opening and with managing all the desires and requests of the soon to be rich and famous owners of all the apartments including him and his family.
Sara and Theodore’s relationship grows professionally and personally…..it will interest you and surprise you…..yes they have an affair but it does not end there…keep reading…..
Present Time: I do not think anyone in this day and age would have to think twice about knowing the famous Dakota Apartment Building in NYC after the tragic death of John Lennon of the Beatles. That news shocked the world and now when anyone mentions the Dakota, we immediately think of John Lennon, a brilliant songwriter and singer and intriguing personality of our time and what a tragedy his death was to anyone who knew and loved him and his work. The song “Imagine”, for me, immediately comes to mind when I hear his name mentioned.
Back to the novel……
So at this early point in the novel, we begin to know Sara’s story,and are introduced to Theodore Camden…. Fast Forward to New York City, September 1985.
We are now introduced to Bailey Camden, fresh out of rehab, a former interior designer who is now homeless, jobless and penniless. Bailey’s grandfather was the ward of the famed architect Theodore Camden. She meets up with her “cousin” Melinda who lives in the apartment in the Dakota which was the apartment of Theodore Camden and his family. Melinda is the great-granddaughter of the late Theodore Camden. Melinda offers Bailey the opportunity to oversee the renovation of the Dakota apartment so Bailey immediately accepts the opportunity for a new start in life. Bailey has no idea, at this time, what she is letting herself in for……
Bailey discovers many connections to Theodore Camden and the Camden family….the history of the Dakota and what secrets are held there…..
After reading and enjoying this novel, I feel Fiona Davis did a great job of introducing the dual story lines, 100 years apart, to guide the readers into the intricate lives of especially the main characters of this novel but also all the other characters who are prominent to the story line.
In my opinion, I felt the novel offers the reader a multitude of layers…. history, interesting character relationships, love, hate,fear, betrayal and death, redemption, hitting bottom and rising up and moving on in amazing ways….
I found myself, at some point while reading that I knew where this story was all going…. to my surprise I was led to continue on to a surprising and amazing and interesting ending to the book.
The history of the Dakota apartment building was interesting, the interior and outdoor descriptions of the building in 1885 up to 1985 were well written and educational. The families and employees who lived and worked there were believable, the descriptions of NYC in 1885 were detailed where you could see them in your mind’s eye and the 1985 description of Strawberry Fields was right on.
The main character of Sara Smythe was well written where you could love her, pity her, and in the end admire her courage.
The visualization of the asylum Sara was sent to was gripping in detail.
The character of Theodore Camden the architect was believable and in the end I felt Fiona Davis nailed it. Her many characterizations were spot on.
Fiona Davis intertwined Love, Lies and Madness……Truth, Courage, Redemption..
2 Plots….100 Years apart…..Connections…..Acceptance
I highly recommend The Address and I am looking forward to reading her other books.