The Address

by Fiona Davis
Dutton, August 2017, $26

The year is 1885 and brilliant architect Theodore Camden offers London hotel housekeeper Sara Smythe a once-in-a-lifetime chance to accompany Camden to New York to manage the Dakota, an apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, which he helped to build. Sara is energetic and capable and believes in Camden’s vision of the city’s future. They soon become more than just colleagues as the unprecedented luxury building fills with New York City’s wealthiest families.

In 1985 New York, Bailey Camden almost had it all—partying at Palladium and Limelight, champagne and cocaine, a senior position at a top interior design firm. Now fresh out of rehab, out of work, homeless, and broke, she moves in with her rich cousin Melinda to supervise a tasteless redo of Melinda’s fabulous apartment in The Dakota while she tries to put her own life back together. Melinda is the great-granddaughter of Theodore Camden, while Bailey is the granddaughter of Christopher Camden, who was raised as Theodore Camden’s ward but left out of the family inheritance.

The Address weaves together the stories of Sara and Bailey with the mystery of Theodore Camden’s murder and Christopher Camden’s origins, shifting deftly back and forth between New York City in 1880s and 1980s. Both eras juxtapose glittering wealth and power with seedy poverty and striving. Sara must navigate the etiquette of interaction between The Dakota’s wealthy tenants and its staff, and her own complicated relationship with the architect and his family. Bailey struggles to come to terms with sobriety, build a new life, and discover the truth about her family background. Both women are engaging personalities whose lives take unexpected turns, with very different outcomes. The Address is a richly imagined and satisfying read.

Jean Gazis
Teri Duerr
August 2017