The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis was a book that I had seen over and over again in the past year, so, when I found out that Davis had her sophomore novel, The Address, publishing this month, I added it to my top of my TBR pile and hopped on the Fiona Davis bandwagon.
I do not read a ton of historical fiction so I wasn’t sure what to expect; however, when I started reading, I quickly discovered that Fiona Davis is a masterful storyteller with the capability to completely entrance her reader.
I was transported back to 1884, where, after a chance run in with a wealthy American family, Sara decides to back up her life and move to America to be the head of house at The Dakota. Flash-forward about a hundred years, in the autumn of 1985, Bailey is out of rehab, fired from her job and without anywhere she goes. In a panic, she turns to her cousin and finds herself in The Dakota. The novel goes back and forth between these perspectives where Davis weaves a tale of love, the quest for success and betrayal within one of New York’s most famous residences.
I sometimes find myself disconnected when I read historical fiction. I think it comes from the fact that I am unable to relate to the characters due to language or general situations; however, in this case, I found the opposite to be true. I was fully connected with both Sara and Bailey throughout my reading. Both of these characters are sort of lost and trying their best to make it with what they have, struggling to fit in, struggling to find their place and struggling to ensure they pretend they know what they are doing with their lives. Amen to that. David does a fantastic job at staying historically accurate while keeping her characters realistic and relevant.
I knew that this book was sticking with me while I found myself wondering about what would happen during my lunchtime fitness class. I really loved the shape of how this one unfolded; Sara’s story is moving linearly while Bailey is discovering hers in reverse. Therefore, most of the twists happen fairly early on and it is clear that an incident occurred but Davis slowly draws out the pieces and weaves the plot slowly while building tension. By the end of the novel, when these two parallel worlds finally collided, I felt like I would burst if everything wasn’t revealed.
Overall, I can now say with confidence that I am pretty much obsessed with the work of Fiona Davis and will anxiously await her next novel; in the meantime, you’ll find me hunting down a copy of The Dollhouse. If you are a fan of any sort of historical fiction or a story that builds tension while focusing on character relationships, you will absolutely devour The Address. I know I did.
5/5 stars. Highly recommended