THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER Fiona Davis, author of The Dollhouse, returns with a compelling novel about the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness, all hidden behind the walls of The Dakota--New York City's most famous residence. After a failed apprenticeship, working her way up to head housekeeper of a posh London hotel is more than Sara Smythe ever thought she'd make of herself. But when a chance encounter with Theodore Camden, one of the architects of the grand New York apartment house The Dakota, leads to a job offer, her world is suddenly awash in possibility--no mean feat for a servant in 1884. The opportunity to move to America, where a person can rise above one's station. The opportunity to be the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. And the opportunity to see more of Theo, who understands Sara like no one else...and is living in The Dakota with his wife and three young children. In 1985, Bailey Camden is desperate for new opportunities. Fresh out of rehab, the former party girl and interior designer is homeless, jobless, and penniless. Two generations ago, Bailey's grandfather was the ward of famed architect Theodore Camden. But the absence of a genetic connection means Bailey won't see a dime of the Camden family's substantial estate. Instead, her "cousin" Melinda--Camden's biological great-granddaughter--will inherit almost everything. So when Melinda offers to let Bailey oversee the renovation of her lavish Dakota apartment, Bailey jumps at the chance, despite her dislike of Melinda's vision. The renovation will take away all the character and history of the apartment Theodore Camden himself lived in...and died in, after suffering multiple stab wounds by a madwoman named Sara Smythe, a former Dakota employee who had previously spent seven months in an insane asylum on Blackwell's Island. One hundred years apart, Sara and Bailey are both tempted by and struggle against the golden excess of their respective ages--for Sara, the opulence of a world ruled by the Astors and Vanderbilts; for Bailey, the free-flowing drinks and cocaine in the nightclubs of New York City--and take refuge and solace in the Upper West Side's gilded fortress. But a building with a history as rich--and often tragic--as The Dakota's can't hold its secrets forever, and what Bailey discovers in its basement could turn everything she thought she knew about Theodore Camden--and the woman who killed him--on its head. With rich historical detail, nuanced characters, and gorgeous prose, Fiona Davis once again delivers a compulsively readable novel that peels back the layers of not only a famed institution, but the lives--and lies--of the beating hearts within.
About the Author
Fiona Davis is the national bestselling author of The Dollhouse, The Address, and The Masterpiece. She lives in New York City and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia and the Columbia Journalism School.
Praise for THE ADDRESS
"A superb tale, masterfully told, with splendid detail and historical accuracy." --Andrew Alpern, author of The Dakota: A History of the World’s Best-Known Apartment Building
Praise for THE DOLLHOUSE
"Rich both in twists and period detail, this tale of big-city ambition is impossible to put down."—People
"The Dollhouse is a thrilling peek through a window into another world—one that readers will savor for a long time."—Associated Press
"An ode to old New York that will have you yelling for more seasons of Mad Men."—New York Post
“Davis paints a scene of Darby’s 1950s glamour for her audience that’s a smart juxtaposition to Rose’s modern-age New York, jumping between time periods clearly with often elegant prose. . . . Davis’s descriptive words are transporting. . . . [A] poignant beach read.”—New York Daily News
"In her page-turning debut, Fiona Davis deftly weaves the storylines of two women living at the famed Barbizon hotel for women. . . . Davis alternates the chapters between each woman until the twists and turns of their respective storylines ultimately weave together, upping the anticipation along the way."—RealSimple
"This suspenseful novel about a woman who took a decidedly different path—and the journalist who wants to uncover her secrets—will quicken your pulse."—InStyle
"Davis layers on relationships and intrigue, while building tension through her story structure. . . . The pace quickens as the story hurtles to its surprising—but satisfying—end. Who said history had to be dull, anyway?"—BookPage
"Davis’s impeccably structured debut is equal parts mystery, tribute to midcentury New York City, and classic love story. . . . Darby and Rose, in alternating chapters, weave intricate threads into twists and turns that ultimately bring them together; the result is good old-fashioned suspense."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Fiona Davis’s debut novel deftly blends the contemporary and midcentury storylines to form a wholly absorbing and entertaining read. . . . Period fiction mingled with twists and turns that keep the reader engrossed until the very last page."—Bookreporter.com
"Davis’s debut novel . . . [is] a lively one, tripping along at a sprightly clip."—Kirkus Reviews
"Get ready for glitz, glamour, and a whole lot of sleuthing."—Brit + Co
"Clever and full of twists. . . . A story well told."—New York Journal of Books
"Sensory and vivid. . . . A zippy plot and [a] refreshing focus on the lives of women many would overlook."—The Dallas Morning News
"Highly readable, The Dollhouse conjures up 1950s New York convincingly. In particular the now-vanished world of the Barbizon Hotel for Women, with its antiquated rules and intriguing array of female personalities and tragic fates, lives on in the pages of the novel in delectable detail. . . . This is no mere ‘chick-lit,’ but feminist-inspired entertainment."—Historical Novel Society
"Fans of Suzanne Rindell’s Three-Martini Lunch will enjoy this debut’s strong sense of time and place as the author brings a legendary New York building to life and populates it with realistic characters who find themselves in unusual situations."—Library Journal
"Davis delivers a fast-paced, richly-imagined debut that's almost impossible to put down."—Kathleen Tessaro, author of The Perfume Collector
"The ghosts of the famed NYC women's hotel come to life in The Dollhouse. Davis expertly weaves together the stories of several women who lived in the Barbizon during its heyday in the 1950s, and the broken-hearted journalist who decides to get the ‘scoop’ on a decades-old tragedy that happened in the building. A fun, page-turning mystery."
—Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch
"Multigenerational and steeped in history, The Dollhouse is a story about women—from the clicking anxiety of Katie Gibbs's secretaries to the willowy cool of Eileen Ford's models, to honey-voiced hatcheck girls and glamorous eccentrics with lapdogs named Bird. Davis celebrates the women of New York's present and past—the ones who live boldly, independently, carving out lives on their own terms."—Elizabeth Winder, author of Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953
"Two coming-of-age stories rolled into an ode to New York City and the young women—of past and present—who have tried to forge lives and careers there. Poetic, romantic, crushing, and soulful."
—Jules Moulin, author of Ally Hughes Has Sex Sometimes