Title: The Address by Fiona Davis
Published: August 1, 2017
Read as: Libby digital library loan
Average Goodreads rating: 3.88
My rating: 3
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. (from Goodreads)
Her mother’s suffering should have been warning enough, but Sara had convinced herself that her own story would have a different ending. No such luck. Men betrayed, women endured.
For many years my favorite genre to read was historical fiction. If there was a mystery involved, then even better. The last couple years I found myself leaning away from historical fiction and have consciously chosen to get back into it in 2020. I decided to dig in with the acclaimed novel The Address by Fiona Davis which has been sitting on my TBR since its release in 2017.
This book written in dual perspectives from different time periods one hundred years apart. The heart of the story takes place in New York City in the mid 1880s while the secondary portion is from the 1980s, also in New York.
I found myself not really relating to either of our narrators, Sara (1880s) and Bailey (1980s), although the way their stories intertwine and the build up of that is what truly drew me in.
At the very beginning the reader is advised that one of the main characters is murdered in the 1880s. The rest of the story from Sara’s perspective is the followup to that death, the changes in her life, and the relationships she cultivates. From Bailey’s perspective she is trying to find out what happened to Sara, exactly who she was, and how precisely Bailey’s own life is attached to the murder victim’s from 100 years ago.
I enjoyed the ebb and flow of this story. Nothing moved terribly quickly but everything kept moving steadily, I didn’t feel like there were any points that I felt the need to skim or jump ahead. The Big Reveals at the end of the book were a delightful surprise to me and the book left me thinking long after I finished it.
Overall, this was a good read. I gave it a 3 because even the characters you were supposed to sympathize with didn’t spark any emotion from me and I thought that the actual murder was pretty flat, it happened so abruptly that I had to go back and reread the paragraph or two when it happened to be sure I’d read it right. I was also a little dissatisfied with the end of Sara’s story. I found it to be grossly unfair to her and that left a bad taste in my mouth. The magic of this book is in the build up, the tension that is pulled like a bow string. If the release of that tension had been less flat I would certainly have rated this book more highly.