Sara Smythe, illegitimate daughter of an earl, finds in Theodore Camden’s offer to be managerette of the Dakota, the fabulous apartment he designed in New York City, the chance to make something of herself. The temptation to see more of Theo and experience gilded age society even at a distance is hard to resist.
Bailey Camden, fresh out of rehab, has tasted the riches of New York too exuberantly. Now the ex-party girl and interior designer is homeless, out of work, and out of resources. Bailey is not related to Theo. However, her grandfather was Theo’s ward. Bailey grew up with her “cousin” Melinda. Now Melinda is her only hope to get her life back together.
Melinda hires Bailey to oversee the renovation of the Camden apartment in the Dakota. Although Bailey doesn’t like Melinda’s ideas, which destroy much of the historical detail in the apartment, she has no choice but to help if she wants a roof over her head.
Bailey meets Renvo, the building manager, who shares her interest in preserving the historical detail of the old building. In the storeroom where he keeps all the moldings and furniture no one wants in their modern apartment, Bailey discovers Sara Smythe’s belongings and unravels the secrets of her family.
The gilded age in New York is beautifully depicted in the novel. The changes that take place over the hundred years make a vivid contrast between the modern Dakota and the original building. The descriptions are compelling,so much so that the Dakota becomes a character in the novel.
This is another novel, of which there are a number lately, told from the point of view of two characters separated by many years. Usually, I find one or the other character more interesting, but in this case, I was captivated by both Sara and Bailey. They are strong, independent women who experience difficult trials and are not beaten by them.
If you enjoy a novel with a complex plot and rich historical detail, you’ll enjoy this book.
I received this book from Dutton for this review.