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Downtown

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,875 ratings  ·  91 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
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Paperback, 512 pages
Published May 24th 1995 by HarperTorch (first published May 1st 1994)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,875 ratings  ·  91 reviews


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Tracey
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young Irish Catholic woman moves from Savannah to Atlanta in 1966. She takes a job at a newspaper writing about issues in Atlanta's black community. The book is about the various cultural changes that happened in the 60's, while also being a coming-of-age story and romance.

I picked this up because it fit a task for a reading challenge, and didn't expect to like it very much, but I did.
Kellie
Aug 21, 2008 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 ...more
Virginia
May 23, 2011 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
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Kerry Hennigan
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-visiting “Downtown” after many years reminds me, as if I need reminding, just how good a writer Anne Rivers Siddons is. This 1994 novel is her towering tribute to the city of Atlanta, to its famous city magazine and the editor and staff that made it landmark publication of the turbulent 60s in the South.

“Downtown” is fiction though, as is the magazine of the same name, its editor and staff, and her female protagonist, “Smoky” O’Donnell from Savannah. Smoky escapes the Irish enclave of her
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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 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
Ginny Thurston
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really related personally to this book. My first job out of college was in Atlanta in 1973... I even did a summer internship at the Constitution and Georgia State, so I knew the excitement of the specific places and the thrills and chills of being on your own for the first time. My mother was a journalist, so I related to that. The Vietnam Nam War was over by then and Civil Rights bill had been passed, but I knew those struggles from high school. I liked the complexity of the characters and ...more
Shannon
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think I read this book about six times as a teenager. I was obsessed with the 60s and wanted to be just like Smokey. So, this was a grown-up re-read for me and, I have to say, it held up. Knowing the story by heart meant I could skim some of the details, but I still felt immersed in the setting, as well as the atmosphere around Downtown Magazine and "Comfort's People." Though, now that I'm an adult, I'm less tolerant of Matt Comfort and his drinking and sexism. Anyway, this book remains one of ...more
S
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Finished a few days ago.
Seemed mostly an exercise in self indulgence.
Much about what a special group of people, working for a city magazine, they were..but nothing to really make the reader feel it and agree.
Much about what an important time it was, and feeling so connected to ‘the movement’..but again no real depth in it.
It was like a lot (huge lot) of self indulgent surface chatter, with no meat behind it.
Nancy
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
In the late fall of 1966, Smoky O’Donnell moves from her tight knit Irish Catholic community in Savannah to the big city of Atlanta to take a job as senior editor of Atlanta magazine. She soon meets wealthy Brad Hunt who wants to marry her and keep her out of harm’s way. At the same time she takes some assignments in sketchier neighborhoods accompanied by photographer, Luke Geary. I gave this only two stars because Smoky seemed a little too naive and her romance with Brad had no spark.
Chris C
Very refreshing and interesting read. You really learn to fall in love with the characters, become one of Matt Comfort's People, and you feel what they feel as the story progresses. This book sports some really progressive themes that make it feel like it was written more recently than it was. Worthy read.
Nancy
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Very dated (not surprisingly), primarily of interest to those who lived through these experiences. Lots of great detail about sixties Atlanta. Well-written, but so far removed from present-day circumstances as to be hardly worth the read.
Reanna
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I would give this book 3.5 stars if I could. It was slow going until chapter 5. Smokey makes you fall in love with the characters.
Jackie Lyon
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing as always!
Michele
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
An Atlanta based book during the 1960’s. A good story with interesting characters. Sorry when I turned the last page but would have liked a different ending.
Sarah
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it
1966
Downtown magazine
Civil rights movement
Not to recommend to students, unfortunately
Nancy
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Good story abou the 70s and civil rights movement. Loved the ending
Mary
Jan 10, 2013 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
...more
Elizabeth
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda
Oct 09, 2010 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 conventional 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 ...more
Brian Bixler
Oct 30, 2013 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.
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Cynthia
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, fiction
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 ...more
Miranda
Jun 14, 2015 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
Amy
Aug 12, 2012 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.
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.
Kw
Oct 19, 2011 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.
Sara L
Jan 27, 2016 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!
Heather Pulley
Nov 13, 2010 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.
India
Jan 25, 2010 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.
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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
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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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