cover image The Address

The Address

Fiona Davis. Dutton, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4199-0

Davis (The Dollhouse) has folded together two historical eras in this breezy historical novel that jumps between Gilded Age and Reagan-era New York City. In 1884, Sara Smythe sets off from London to New York, wooed there with the promise of a job at the Dakota, an apartment building for the rich. In 1985, Bailey Camden, fresh out of drug rehab, accepts a job from her party-girl cousin to remodel the shabby apartment that she inherited in the old Dakota building. As Bailey researches the building, she discovers Sara’s tragic history: her romance with the architect who designed the Dakota, Theo Camden, and her eventual conviction for his murder. Davis overlays the two histories beautifully, tying them together through transitions focused on the picturesque building. But the two women are connected by more than just the Dakota, and all sorts of secrets slowly come to light as Bailey proceeds with the renovation. The book, rife with historical description and architectural detail, will appeal to design and history buffs alike. But while the setting is captivating, the facts of Sara’s and Bailey’s lives tend toward the melodramatic. Readers interested in Gilded Age New York will appreciate this light historical drama, but predictable moments and a convenient resolution will leave others wanting. Agent: Stefanie Lieberman, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Aug.)