FLASHBACK FRIDAY: DECEMBER 30,2017

THE ADDRESS by Fiona Davis: A Review

I finished this book nearly a month ago, but summer school and its fast pace prevented me from reviewing it until now.  I wanted to do it justice because the author is a friend, and she has written a really fine novel.

When one hears the address, The Dakota (an apartment building, now a building of condos) in New York, one’s mind automatically goes to John Lennon’s murder, but the story goes back much further than that, to the 1800’s to another infamous murder at that address. Davis has thoroughly done her research on the building (Her novels are set in buildings in New York), and discovered that the architect was stabbed to death, supposedly by a crazy woman of that day. She has envisioned how it could have been and written a very plausible story explaining her vision.

A blurb on the book describes it as “…about the thin line between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness.”  In the novel, Theodore Camden was found stabbed to death, presumably by Sarah Smith, his lover. That is the 1800’s story.  The 1985 story finds Bailey Camden (notice the name) an out of work recovering alcoholic just returning from rehab, who is  forced to throw herself on the mercy of Melinda, her vacuous cousin for a job and a place to live.  The job, at the Dakota, which includes an apartment, as what seems to be her only salary, develops into an interest in (bordering on obsession with) the building. I have never read such twists and turns as were in both Sarah’s 1884 story and Bailey’s 1985 investigation into her ancestor’s murder.

As in Davis’ debut novel, The Dollhouse, about the Barbizon hotel, the novel alternates between the early story and the more modern one.  This never confuses the reader, however, for chapters in both novels are clearly marked with dates. Also like The Dollhouse, Davis’ newest is a historical romance story, involves a crime of passion, and has several mysteries to solve. The opening of The Address, begins arrestingly: “The sight of a child teetering on the window ledge of room 510 turned Sarah’s world upside down.” Thus begins a tale that kept me up far past my bedtime because I couldn’t put it down. Dishes and laundry went unwashed, social activities were put on hold, and telephone calls went unanswered during my two-day immersion in The Address. The author’s inclusion of the details of the period were reminiscent of those taken by the creators of “Downton Abbey.”

I am so looking forward to Davis’ next novel, which I have on her mother’s word, is set in Grand Central Station. To all people who love all things New York and any reader who enjoys a good read, I highly recommend this book.

Author: Rae Longest

This year, I will have been a member of AAUW (American Association of University Women) for fifty years, a life time member (which means my fellow AAUW members will begin to pay my annual dues. (ha ha) In the 80’s we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015 and went on from there (See “Introduction”,first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 27th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are “in my blood” just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY

FOR NOVEMBER’S FLASHBACK FRIDAY, HERE IS AN EARLIER POST FEATURING A NARRATIVE FROM MY TEEN YEARS:

This was a short piece, a narrative I wrote in undergraduate school.  I found it when clearing out an old file folder, and thought it might be worth sharing.

We had taken inventory at Woolworth’s that night, and I was late coming home from work.  I dragged myself upstairs, prepared to face high school homework, and tiptoed through the room where my twelve year old brother was sleeping  and into my own attic bedroom.  Dad had divided the attic between us and had done a good job converting it to bedrooms. The paint on the walls was battleship grey, appropriated from the Naval Base, and the door between our rooms was a few inches too short for the frame, allowing heat from the register to heat both rooms.

I lay down to sleep and was immediately startled by a rustling noise that sounded like crumpled paper scratching across the linoleum.  The noise seemed to be coming from under the bed!  I had been terrified about the idea of mice ever since at the age of nine, one had tried to make a nest in my long hair in this very room. Turning on the bedside light, I searched quickly, not really wanting to find anything. My heart sickened as I lay down and turned out the light again when the noise resumed. This time I leaped far clear of the bed, unfolded the double bed spread on the twin bed, and kneeling peered under the bed itself.  I almost had my nose snipped off by an old snapping turtle!  MICHAEL MARION MASON, I yelled at my brother, come get your snapping turtle out from under my bed!

Mother said she heard us both barrel down the stairs, then Mike with no explanation to anyone, opened the side door and threw something frisbee-shaped out.  Poor me.  Poor turtle. Poor confused parents. Lucky Mike, for he received no punishment.