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Downtown

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  2,587 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
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 introd
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Paperback, 512 pages
Published May 24th 1995 by HarperTorch (first published May 1st 1994)
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Kellie
Aug 21, 2008 Kellie rated it it was amazing
I loved the excitement Smoky felt about her first real job and the glamour of Atlanta at the beginning of this book. I could relate. I remember my first “real” job and how exciting it was to work “downtown”. And that song played through my head as I read the book. Siddons has been known to add a dark side to her novels, however, this one did not have it. It is an early work. Siddons sometimes gets a little too wordy and this was no exception. So, I just skimmed through some of the detail. I thin ...more
Virginia
May 23, 2011 Virginia rated it liked it
I am a rabid fan of Anne Rivers Siddons, but I somehow never read Downtown. If I read it before, I recalled none of it. If I had I read it before I read Colony, I many never have read another book by this author.

There are moments in this novel that are so wonderful, but they are few. As always, the language is beautiful and intoxicating, but the story, for me, falls flat. It feels forced and contrived. It seems that Ms. Siddons was not the right person to tell this story of Atlanta in the late 1
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April
When I first started reading Anne Rivers Siddons (a long time ago) this book stood out as my very favorite! The central character is wonderful! It is her "coming of age" story and I found it to be lovely and heartwarming.
Claire Fullerton
Mar 23, 2017 Claire Fullerton rated it it was amazing
Downtown is, yet again, another Anne Rivers Siddons classic. In my mind, she's incapable of writing anything less. Masterfully and vividly set in mid-nineties sixties Atlanta, Siddons parallels the rise of the Southern city as it grows into its own through turbulent times, with the budding career of new arrival, journalist Smoky O'Donnell, who hails from an insular, Catholic community, among the Irish working-class of Corkie, which rests along the waterfront of Savannah, Georgia. Smoky is twenty ...more
Nancy
Feb 24, 2017 Nancy rated it really liked it
Good story abou the 70s and civil rights movement. Loved the ending
Mary
Jan 10, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes historical fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Bookmooch
The year is 1966, a time of innocence, possibility, and freedom. And for the city of Atlanta, Georgia, the country, and one woman making her way in a changing world, nothing will ever be the same.

After an airless childhood in Savannah, Maureen 'Smoky' O'Donnell arrives in Atlanta, a naive young woman, dazzled and chastened by this hectic young city on the rise. Even though Smoky has to literally earn her wings as a female reporter on the staff of the male-dominated magazine, she gains membershi
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Linda
Oct 09, 2010 Linda rated it liked it
Smoky O'Donnell, a small town southern Catholic girl in the 1960's, accepts a job as layout editor for the newly published "Downtown" magazine, put out by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Her strict parents allow her to go only on the condition that she live in a convent that takes in boarders and that she live the conven¬tional life of a sheltered religious girl of her time. But the staff of "Downtown" is not like this they work all hours, go out together to eat and drink a lot, and meet and in ...more
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian Bixler
Oct 30, 2013 Brian Bixler rated it really liked it
On the recommendation of a friend and because Siddons is fast becoming a favorite author of mine, I checked this 1994 book out of the library. It has a different tone than some of her other books, but the storytelling is no less captivating.
Petula Clark's catchy pop song of the same title will resound through the reader's mind as Siddons rolls out a story of a scrappy bunch of journalists who make a name for themselves and Atlanta's Downtown magazine at the height of the Civil Rights movement. T
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Cynthia
May 22, 2016 Cynthia rated it really liked it
This was a different type of book for this author - at least it seemed so to me. Set in Atlanta during the 60's, a time of cultural upheaval, it is a coming of age story that really spoke to me. It so poignantly captured the hero worship of youth, the searching after a family of the heart when one's biological family seems unsatisfactory, that shining time when all comes together and one rides the wave in triumph and glory, and the inevitable change, passing and end of it all. As I grew older I ...more
Sue
Jun 29, 2010 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, usa
Maureen O'Donnell, known as Smoky, moves from Savannah to Atlanta to accept a position with a new magazine called Downtown published by the Chamber of Commerce. Raised Catholic, her parents only let her go if she promises to board at a convent. But she quickly gets absorbed into the lives of the magazine staff and moves in to an apartment with one of the other women and going out to eat and drink with the other staffers. Her position provides opportunity to meet a wide range of people - from th ...more
Miranda
Jun 14, 2015 Miranda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've attempted to read a couple of Siddons's books that I just could not get into. I also started and finished Peachtree Road a few years back, but I found it unnecessarily long and horribly depressing. But Downtown was far better. It's supposed to be about Smoky, but I really thought the city of Atlanta was the real lead character of this book. I loved the journalism setting and I also loved the 1960s era. I do find Siddons to be too wordy, but that didn't take away from the story. It was still ...more
Antonina Sh
Feels like an immersion trip into American South of late 60s, captivating as it is. And even if it doesn't give a complete picture of what it was like, it most certainly makes you wanna be there, live there, see it all with your own eyes. The book might be not that deeply thoughtful, and at times is too much like those tacky love novels, but there is definitely something there... Something that makes you kind of dwell in it.
Amy
Aug 12, 2012 Amy rated it really liked it
pat conroy turned me on to the south east in some of my favorite novels, beach music and prince of tides. siddons writes in the same vein, if not as poetically, as conroy. i have read some of her books and enjoyed them, this book was by far the best one i've read so far. (granted, i am still searching for the house next door, which comes recommended as a great ghost story. . .two in one for me!!!!) if you have any interest in the trials of the late sixties in georgia, READ THIS BOOK.
Heather Pulley
Nov 13, 2010 Heather Pulley rated it it was ok
Not one of my favorite Ann Rivers Siddons books, but it was good. I guess I just didn't think enough happened, which is odd considering it takes place in 1966-1967 in Atlanta. I did like the way things wrapped up in the end and it was interesting to see how this one year in Smokey's life shaped everything else she did.
Sara L
Jan 27, 2016 Sara L rated it really liked it
I read this while I was travelling back and forth to Atlanta for a year on business. I highly recommend this to anyone who knows Atlanta. Anne Rivers Siddons claims it is not a true account of her time at the Atlanta Magazine, but if you read her bio's on the internet, it's pretty close. Definitely a good read!
Kw
Oct 19, 2011 Kw rated it liked it
An interesting look at the Civil Rights movement and the 'hippie/flower child/make love not war/if it feels good, do it' time in our history. Great prose, but lots and lots of it, and far more romance than I ever want in a novel. Predictable ending, but a good one, nonetheless. I am still sad about the dysfunctionality of Smoky's family and their willingness to just let each other go.
India
Jan 25, 2010 India rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really like this book. The characters are very likable and the story is interesting. It reminds one of the excitement of being young and it weaves in all of the excitement and changes of the sixties.
Susan
Jan 25, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing
Was a good story about a troublesome time in our history. Brought back memories of a time we should not forget. Anne Rivers Siddons is an in-depth writer who doesn't a tremendous amount of research in her novels.
Sherrey
Mar 03, 2009 Sherrey rated it really liked it
Coming of age in the 60s in the South is very real to me -- it was where I was at that time in my life. Siddons does a careful and realistic view of the South in a time when life sat every day on the edge of tension.
Pat
Feb 13, 2014 Pat rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tracy Madden
Aug 26, 2008 Tracy Madden rated it it was amazing
LOVE it! Smokey O'Donnell is awesome and I definitely wanted to be her in this book. It's a great peek at history around the time of the Civil Rights Movement and you get a real feel for what was happening during that time. This is my favorite of all of Anne Rivers Siddons books.
Joan
Jul 19, 2009 Joan rated it really liked it
Recommended by Ida Uscher, a 90+year-old, sharp, astute, kind-hearted social worker. It was a quick and engaging read and a historical tour through the civil rights awakening of the 60s. I've never read Siddons before and was delightfully surprised. It's light but strong.
Luckngrace
Jul 08, 2011 Luckngrace rated it liked it
Great descriptions, perhaps a little bit too much description. It brought back a time in my life (the 1960s) that was as chaotic as those in this book, so surprisingly, I didn't enjoy it as I should have.
Alicia
Nov 18, 2008 Alicia rated it it was amazing
I am a fool for emotive, coming-of-age, stand-next-to-greatness type stories. This is one of the best. Just hearing the song Downtown makes me choke up after reading this book. This is old fashioned chick lit--more like, woman lit.
Katie Hilton
Nov 22, 2011 Katie Hilton rated it it was ok
This is a fairly good Siddons, apparently loosely based on her experiences with Atlanta magazine in the late '60s. It is somewhat sappy, though, and the ending is odd. If you're a fan, you should read it; otherwise, move on.

Erin37
Nov 29, 2011 Erin37 rated it really liked it
I love the descriptive Anne Rivers Siddons, but did not feel as incaptured in this book as I have with other works of her. I still enjoyed the story, especially since I am a transplant to Atlanta, it gave me some insight into that 1960s here.
Elaine Cougler
Sep 10, 2016 Elaine Cougler rated it really liked it
Downtown by Anne Rivers Siddons is about a young 60's Irish girl in Atlanta and her rise as a person juxtaposed against the rise and fall of the magazine she works for. It is a very topical book for the times and quite interesting as such.
Mary
May 11, 2014 Mary rated it liked it
I came across this book at a resort in Hawaii - take what you want and return to this or another shelf. I thought I had read all of ARS but this one was new to me. I remember the sense of dark foreboding found in her books set in or near Atlanta.
Pweigum
Jan 14, 2010 Pweigum rated it it was ok
Couldn't really get into this book. Moved slow. Still trying. Finally finished and it got better later in the book.
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Born Sybil Anne Rivers in Atlanta, Georgia, she was raised in Fairburn, Georgia, and attended Auburn University, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority.
While at Auburn she wrote a column for the student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman, that favored integration. The university administration attempted to suppress the column, and ultimately fired her, and the column garnered natio
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“I could run nearly naked on a hot, windy beach and plunge without care into a running diamond sea; roll on the sand and fling my arms wide to the sun and still be what I was...young.” 9 likes
“I still don't know a place with lovelier Aprils. The mornings and nights are fresh and cool, and the sun pours down like spilled honey, warm without the thick wet weight of the coming summer. The damp earth is as red as flesh, or blood, and so fecund that you can almost hear the thrumming, rustling push of growth up through it. The new foliage is a thousand different shades of pink, red, gold, and green. I could not seem to stay indoors at night in that first spring; I was enraptured with the startling, ghostly white showfalls of dogwood in dusk-green woods, and with streetlights shining through new leaves. Azaleas rolled like surf through the wooded hills of the northwest.” 8 likes
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