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Downtown Mass Market Paperback – May 24, 1995

4.0 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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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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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: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another strong hit! This author has the ability to write a story that is nothing more than the characters within it, but that winds you so tightly in their grasp that you HAVE to continue reading! I have long been a fan of her work, and this was no exception! A surprisingly gripping story about a time when the world was gripped in its own turmoil. Well done!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of my favorite writers. Siddons' writing takes you to places she had created, and creates characters you come to care about. They are complex and can be related to as if they were real people. She also takes you to places inside yourself, giving you the opportunity to question what you would do in similar circumstances, or to question what you DID in similar circumstances. Her writing flows & grabs you. Give yourself a treat & discover her, if you haven't done so yet!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book more than I realized. All of a sudden it was 12 midnight and I had to stay up to finish it. Thank you for a wonderful story and the descriptions of the landscapes and the apartments and the bus ride put me in the actual place each time. I read more of the author's books and hunger for more each time I finish another one. Have recommended all that I have read so far to friends and family.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Anne Rivers Siddons using her time-tested formula to good effect in this story of a Southern gal of poverty-stricken Irish background, who comes to Atlanta in the late 1960s to work for a buzzworthy magazine, falls under the spell of its charismatic, politically committed editor (historical figures like Martin Luther King figure sharply) There's romance - the clearly 'wrong' guy, the guy who seems wrong, then right... the guy in the 'friend zone', the sweet gal pal who finds her own path to love - but the real awakening at the heart of the novel is this young woman's growing commitment to social justice
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Siddons' characters are as real and familiar as people you know. She paints her Southern settings so colorfully that you could swear you've been there. Downtown is perfect for "boomers" like me who were starting out in the South in the sixties. It's a history lesson with a personal perspective that makes the predictability forgivable and the final twist really satisfying.
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