The year is 1966, a time of innocence, possibility, and freedom. And for Atlanta, the country, and one woman making her way in a changing world, nothing will be the same . . . After an airless childhood in Savannah, Smoky O'Donnell arrives in Atlanta, dazzled and chastened by this hectic young city on the rise. Her new job as a writer with the city's Downtown magazine introduces her to many unforgettable people and propels her into the center of momentous events that will irrevocably alter her heart, her career, and her world.
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Having traveled outside the South in her recent novels, Anne Rivers Siddons returns to her hometown and the setting of Peachtree Road, the 1988 fictional saga of Atlanta that launched her onto national bestseller lists. Her 10th novel, Downtown tells the story of Smoky O'Donnell, a bright young woman who arrives in Atlanta in 1966 in search of an exciting beginning to a new life. A nostalgic love note to the innocence and promise of Atlanta in the '60s, Downtown is also a tender account of one woman's difficult choices and personal triumphs.
A vibrant and fast-paced city on the move and on the make, Atlanta is one of the first cities to have its own magazine, called Downtown, and it is where Smoky sets out to make her mark as a writer. Though Smoky has to literally earn her wings as a female reporter for the male-dominated magazine, she gains membership into an intimate family of dedicated staff members headed by Matt Comfort, a flamboyant and charismatic editor who is known everywhere in the city. "To be on its masthead was to own a piece of the city," recalls Smoky.
More than any previous novel, the details of Downtown mirror the facts of Anne Rivers Siddons' own life. Siddons got her start as a staff writer for Atlanta magazine, one of America's first city magazines. Founded by Jim Townsend, a revered mentor to a whole generation of Atlanta writers, the magazine came to life in the exciting decade of the '60s, when the city was emerging as a political center for the civil rights movement and redefining itself as the South's metropolis of the future. Downtown captures the energy of the city at this turning point.
"Before the '60s, there was no doubt that the pristine insularity of Atlanta would hold," Siddons explains. "Then, hordes of young people infiltrated the city and two worlds just jammed against each other, like tectonic plates. In Downtown, I tried to capture the feeling that everything was about to change. It was very powerful." Borrowing its title from the Petula Clark song as well as the name of the city magazine where Smoky works, Downtown weaves in the sights and sounds of a generation redefining itself. Far from her Irish Catholic family in Savannah and outside the stately Tudor mansions of Atlanta's wealthy Buckhead community, Smoky discovers a world of shiny vinyl, Motown, and the birth-control pill.
By the surprising end of Downtown, "the Atlanta I had come in search of" is a distant memory for Smoky. Unlike her protagonist, Siddons still calls Atlanta home after 30 years, though she speaks of the changes there with mixed emotions. In the now-defunctLear's magazine, Siddons wrote of Atlanta: "A woman can make a name for herself here that shine on many shores. Woman can, and some do, create and topple personal empires here... but they do so in ruffles... Atlanta is known as a man's town and has been for most of its short, supercharged life. The day of the glorious individual woman -- the artist, the scientist, the CEO, the glittering maverick -- is only just dawning."About the Author:
Anne Rivers Siddons's bestselling novels include Nora, Nora; Sweetwater Creek; Islands; and Fox's Earth. She is also the author of the nonfiction work John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. She and her husband divide their time between Charleston, South Carolina, and Brooklin, Maine.
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Book Description HarperTorch, 1995. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0061099686
Book Description HarperTorch, 1995. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110061099686