Penguin Publishing Group
Fiona Davis (Photo courtesy Kristen Jensen)
Authorlink Audio Interview with Fiona Davis
Audio Length: 15 minutes
A Conversation with Fiona Davis, author of THE DOLL HOUSE.
With The Dollhouse, Fiona Davis made one of the most stunning fiction debuts in recent memory, captivating readers, critics and booksellers alike, who called the book “impeccably structured” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), “thrilling” (Associated Press), and “smart…elegant” (New York Daily News). A People Magazine Book of the Week, Time Magazine Summer Reading Pick, Publishers WeeklyFirst Fiction Pick, LibraryReads August Pick, and theSkimmReads Pick of the Week, the novel launched Davis into the literary spotlight.
Now with THE ADDRESS (Dutton, August 1, 2017), Fiona Davis invites readers behind the walls of another famed institution, The Dakota, with an evocative, historically rich, and mysterious story about two women, separated by a century, whose lives are forever altered by their time at the iconic New York City residence, The Dakota, examining the thin lines between love and loss, success and ruin, and passion and madness.
Her second novel is an Indie Next Pick and LibraryReads Pick for August and has been named a “Best of” book for summer and fall by a number of outlets.
In our Authorlink AUDIO interview, Fiona talks about how she learned to write by reading, what inspired her to use The Dakota as the setting for her latest novel, and her writing and editing process.
As BookPage states in their glowing review of the book: “Davis makes pithy commentary on gender, social and economic inequality in both eras. In the earlier setting, one fallen woman is carted off to an insane asylum, while another retains her status by dint of being in a respectable marriage. In 1985, Melinda dismisses servants without a second thought and treats Bailey just a little bit better. This thought-provoking book makes you wonder what Edith Wharton would have made of these Camdens and pseudo-Camdens. Thankfully, Davis is here to tell us.”
In the novel, Sara Smythe is a woman ahead of her time. It’s 1884 and she’s traveling from England to America—alone—to become the female manager of The Dakota, which promises to be the greatest apartment house in the world. Upon arrival, she’s surprised to find it’s located in the upper reaches of the city, where farmland and empty lots line the unpaved streets. A far cry from what she imagined Gilded Age New York City to look like. But, a budding friendship with one of the building’s wealthy—and married—architects, Theodore Camden, helps ease the transition to her new home.
One hundred years later, Bailey Camden, an interior designer and former party girl with a complicated family history connecting her to The Dakota, gets an opportunity to oversee the renovation of an apartment in the building. Dismayed by the requested changes to the original design, but desperate for work and distraction from the temptations of the1980s party scene, she jumps at the chance. As her work begins, she discovers a century-old secret of murder and madness within the building’s walls that just may change her life forever.
“I decided to set part of THE ADDRESS in 1884, the year the Dakota opened, as well as a parallel story set in 1985,” explains Davis. “The mid-1980s interested me because I’d first arrived in the city around then, when the Dakota was blackened with centuries of soot, and clubs like The Limelight and restaurants like The Odeon attracted a crowd that liked to party hard. It was a Gilded Age of its own, much like that of the 1880s.”
To fully imagine New York City of the 1880s, Davis immersed herself in research, finding design inspiration from both the Morgan Library & Museum and the Tenement Museum. She visited Roosevelt Island, formerly known as Blackwell’s Island, which once housed an insane asylum. She interviewed designers, architects and historians and visited various apartments in the Dakota, including the former home of Lauren Bacall. “I enjoyed exploring the ways the building and the city changed over the century, as well as the Dakota’s impact on the people who lived and worked there,” says Davis.
The result is a compulsively readable, beautifully rendered novel that peels back the layers of not only a remarkable building but the lives —and lies—of the beating hearts within.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fiona Davis was born in Canada and raised in New Jersey, Utah, and Texas. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After ten years, she changed careers and began working as an editor and writer. Her historical fiction debut, The Dollhouse, was published in 2016. She’s a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is based in New York City. You can find her at www.FionaDavis.net.
PRAISE FOR THE ADDRESS
*An Indie Next Pick for August*
“The Address is compelling, historically minded fiction with unexpected—and entertaining twists and turns… the novel delights…”—Ms. Magazine
“Two women, connected but a century apart, find intrigue and hardship in the Dakota, New York City’s landmark apartment building. Its fascinating history — mixed with romance, family discord and murder — makes this a fast-paced read.”
“Davis overlays the two histories beautifully… The book, rife with historical description and architectural detail, will appeal to design and history buffs alike.”—Publishers Weekly
“[The Address] weaves an unforgettable, centuries-spanning tale of life and love in The Dakota, NYC’s most famous apartment house.”—Southern Living
“Davis makes pithy commentary on gender, social and economic inequality…This thought-provoking book makes you wonder what Edith Wharton would have made of these Camdens and pseudo-Camdens. Thankfully, Davis is here to tell us.”—BookPage