On Sale: August 1, 2017
Hardcover / e-Book
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Women's Fiction Historical | Historical
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
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
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.
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