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Downtown Mass Market Paperback – May 24, 1995


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch; Reprint edition (May 24, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061099686
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061099687
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,163,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Her latest novel exhibits Siddons's ( Hill Towns ) strengths and weaknesses in equal measure and may leave her fans underwhelmed, disappointed in her uninspired and often pretentious story line. The background, Atlanta in the heady '60s, is well done, but Siddons's penchant for excessive prose and hokey nostalgia often gets out of hand. Maureen "Stormy" O'Donnell is a naive young woman from a working-class Irish-Catholic family who moves to Atlanta in the mid-'60s to write for a local magazine. (Her ease in getting the job and her overjoyed welcome by her new colleagues is the stuff of fairy tales.) She's romanced by socially prominent, old-money swain Brad Hunt but has conflicting feelings about crusading photojournalist Luke Geary . During the course of the narrative, Stormy tackles Atlanta high society, triumphs over a bigoted lieutenant governor and becomes involved in the civil rights movement--and with one of its charismatic stars, John Howard. All this is rendered with a cloying, wide-eyed enthusiasm that hobbles Siddons's attempts to explore the South's prejudice and racism. Her language, which in past books has sometimes teetered toward the overblown, now positively gushes. Atlanta has "a sliver of Brigadoon through its heart," and Brad is so handsome Stormy "almost laughed aloud." Still, readers may welcome Siddons's attempt to grapple with moral and social issues. 300,000 first printing; $325,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main selection; first serial to Cosmopolitan; audio rights to Harper Audio; author tour .
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Echoes of Pat Conroy and Tennessee Williams can be heard in half a dozen apocalyptic scenes, keeping us flipping through the last 200 pages of this hefty chronicle of Atlanta in the Sixties. The narrative is slow to warm up, as protagonist Maureen "Smoky" O'Donnell emerges from the Savannah docks to write for Atlanta's award-winning Downtown magazine. Mentored by the charismatic editor-in-chief, Smoky gets awards for covering the city's war on poverty. As the novel gains momentum, she dumps wealthy Brad to find adventure with Freedom Summer veteran Lucas-only to lose him to the war in Vietnam. Siddons (Hill Towns, HarperCollins, 1993, and other very popular novels), one of the first senior editors of Atlanta magazine, has drawn on memory to create a satisfying historical romance spiced with wry humor.
--Joyce Smothers, Monmouth Cty. Lib., Manalapan, N.J.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This was the greatest book I ever read.
C. M. Bussler
The different types of characters in this book are fascinating, from the upper crust society types to the people living in projects and slums.
JulieS
I look forward to reading more of her books!
Burns C Griffiths

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. Tiedemann on July 16, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
he became a bestselling novelist!
I love Anne Rivers Siddons and I bet that the photographer in DOWNTOWN still does too, in his own weird way.
This story is partly autobiographical but not enough so to be a memoir. The editor is patterned on the notorious and terrific Jim Townsend of Atlanta Magazine, where Siddons worked in the '60s and the staff members she worked with then show up with personalities slightly skewed. It's obvious to the reader that every bit of the material here is close to Siddons's heart. In some places she seems restrained, as though she's holding something back; in others she lets loose and her youthful passion surfaces.
I lost my paperback in a recent move (I'll replace it with a hardback so it'll last) or I'd copy a passage so you could see the sensuousness of her writing. She is, without a doubt, one of the finest wordsmiths practicing today. She writes about things that are part of her, what she has known and what she cares about -- and she'll make it all a part of you, too.
Sunnye Tiedemann
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer L. Young on January 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Just wondered if anyone else has ever cottoned to the fact that the scene where Smoky visits La Carrousel with Luke, and sits with him, John Howard, and Juanita the Black Panther, is duplicated from "Peachtree Road"? Check out Chapter 16 of PR, in which Shep, Lucy, and Jack Venable visit the same club. Much of it has been translated verbatim, even to Smoky's awareness of her white flesh glowing "rottenly among all the rich shades of blackness around her" (or something like that), the same dialogue with two of MLK Jr's lieutenants, and the same description and encounter with King himself. What's up with that, I wonder? Did the author run out of inspiration...or did she underestimate her audience's intelligence? I agree with the assessments below, by the way, that it's a substandard effort. Siddons can do, and has done, much better.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JulieS on December 5, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read a few of Anne Rivers Siddons books so far, and they were mostly light reading, the story of a woman who has some issues and then seeks to resolve them. But Downtown is a different and more complicated book. This book details many of the civil movements in the 60s like the Vietnam war, the African-American quest for equality, and the changing of society. The different types of characters in this book are fascinating, from the upper crust society types to the people living in projects and slums. The narrator, Smoky, is a sort of tabula rasa, a blank slate who records many of the changes around her, as she herself changes. Not having lived through this period in history, I found that reading this book gave me a lot of insight into the lives of people in the 60s. It was a very engaging read and I would highly recommend it. And the ending is somewhat surprising, which should keep you tuned in until the last page.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "user754755" on June 29, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first encountered this story in the pages of Cosmo--it hooked me and I went out immediately to buy and finish it. Anne Rivers Siddons writes the kind of books that you don't want to end. She creates another world--really paints a unique vision with her words. This story rings so true, it really has that feel of authenticity--almost autobiographical even. I have read most of her other books as well, but this one which I read a few years ago remains my favorite...As an aspiring writer, her writing both inspires and intimidates me it is so good!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ana Maria Barrenechea on March 20, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book I read from Anne Rivers Siddons. I had just moved to Atlanta, and I had heard that this author also lived in Atlanta and that all her novels were based in the South.
I enjoyed reading this novel, not only because I was familiar with most of the places described in the book, but also because I liked very much the style the author uses to describe the characters, their emotions.
Suffice to say, I was totally "hooked" and I have read almost all of her books.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Maureen Aisling O'Donnell is tired of living in plain old Corkie. Other wise known as Smoky, Maureen has lived in the same neighborhood all of her life, and so she wants to leave. When the opportunity comes along for her to work on a promising magazine in Atlanta, GA, she leaps on the chance, and leaves. This novel is about her many discoveries about life outside of a dominantly Irish suburb. Smoky lives in a period where the civil war is still going strong, having loose morals is common, and the start of the Vietnam War has begun. I found this book to be very interesting. I read about the civil war from someone else's point of view. I did find that many of her chapters were somewhat pointless, and felt that she could have done a better job on the overall plot of the book. The main character, Smoky, is only somewhat realistic, in comparison to the remarkable imagery. While I could feel what she was feeling, and see what she is seeing, I could not identify with the character. I would only recommend this book to someone who has a lot of time, and little expectancy of a book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on August 21, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Downtown, Anne Rivers Siddons lovingly recreates boom-town Atlanta in the 1960's, and places Smokey O'Donnell, a twenty-six-year-old virginal Irish Catholic girl from staid Savannah (a thinly-cloaked stand-in for Siddons, herself) in the thick of the most exciting and momentous times the city has witnessed since the Civil War. Smokey cheerfully crosses the bridge from the class-smothered old south of her roots, to the new south which spreads around her like a banquet. She steps forward into a dream job with a progressive arts and culture magazine, and begins a series of romantic and political adventures, the likes of which she could not have dreamed back in her native Savannah. Smokey comes to know members of the civil rights movement, including Martin Luther King, and is there at its height, before its is replaced in the public consciousness by the more radical protest movement against the Vietnam War.

Smokey's story easily fills the pages of Downtown and succeeds because she is in her optimistic innocence, fulfilling the sort of dream so many women of all times and places have had. Who does not aspire to leave behind the past and leap face-forward into a new and better life where a real difference for the best can be achieved? In the enjoyable tale called Downtown, we get to live vicariously through Smokey's triumph.

A fine novel that resurrects a time and place and should be a worthy read for almost anyone.
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