Review | The Address, Fiona Davis

33607640This is such a good book! I was totally sucked into the story, and I wish I had read this on a weekend, so that I could just spend an entire afternoon on the couch losing myself in its world. The Address tells the story of two women a century apart, whose lives are entwined with an apartment building in New York and the family of the architect who designed it.

Sara Smythe is an English housekeeper who lands a job as a building manager at a posh New York apartment in the 1880s. Her story is utterly compelling and ultimately tragic. Despite her caution after her mother’s experience of being in love with a married man, Sara finds herself falling in love with Theodore Camden, the architect who hired her to manage the building. We know from the half of the novel set in the 1980s that at some point, Sara is confined in a mental asylum and ends up killing Theodore Camden. Her reasons for doing so are unknown to historians, and even when we know how Sara’s life turns out at the end, the unraveling of her tale is almost hypnotic, as Davis manages to weave an entire world within her pages. The biggest reveal to her tale is not that she murdered her employer, but rather the tragic reasons why it happened. I also loved the cast of characters surrounding Sara and Theodore — Theodore’s distant wife, Sara’s cheerful and naive assistant, and even the residents of the building are all sharply drawn and complex figures.

Bailey Camden’s half of the story, set in the 1980s, pales in comparison. A recovering addict, Bailey gets a chance at a new career when her cousin Melinda hires her to renovate her apartment, which happens to be the one Theodore Camden used to live in.Melinda is Theodore’s biological great-granddaughter, and in line to inherit a tremendous fortune. Bailey’s grandfather was Theodore Camden’s ward, who was left out of the estate, and as a result, her father had disavowed any connection to the family. While renovating the apartment, Bailey comes across a photograph that hints at a stronger connection between her and the family than her father realized, and sparks a curiosity to learn more about who Sara Smythe is.

The answer to Bailey’s quest will likely come as no surprise, though there is an unexpected twist at the end that is awfully convenient yet too amusing to dislike. There’s a friendship/romance with the building’s landlord, which was nice but lacked any real spark. Melinda’s bitchiness was entertaining but ultimately too caricaturish (spoiled rich girl meets evil stepmother) to evoke a response. Still, I like how Bailey’s half of the story gave me a more expansive perspective on Sara’s life, and on how Sara’s story continued after her death.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. Take an afternoon off, make yourself a cup of tea, and allow yourself to become immersed in this world.

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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