By Barbara Taylor Bradford
Best-selling novelist Barbara Taylor Bradford has sold more than 88m copies of her books worldwide, in more than 90 countries and 40 languages. Born and raised in the UK, she was honoured by the Queen for her services to literature in 2007.
When Bob [film and television producer Robert Bradford] and I first married, we lived on the Upper East Side in two different apartments. Later we moved to the Fifties for several years — first to the 47th floor of a high-rise and later to River House with its secluded cobbled courtyard.
But the Upper East Side has always been our favourite area in Manhattan and we bought a new apartment on Park Avenue almost five years ago. We love being back here. Park Avenue is beautiful, a wide avenue divided by a series of gardens with trees, bushes and flower beds. The individual plots in front of the apartment buildings and other buildings are broken at each cross street to allow the traffic to pass through. The gardens run right down the middle of the avenue; east side uptown, west side downtown.
We live at the corner of Eighty-Third Street and because Park Avenue slopes upwards I am standing on a rise when I go to the garden in front of our building and look down the avenue.
I have a fabulous view of New York, seeing canyons of steel and glass rising up into the sky, glittering in the sunlight. It’s a fabulous vista at any time, but especially at night when all the lights are sparkling. And if I turn my head and look behind me, I can see the beautiful Church of St Ignatius Loyola. At Christmas the trees and bushes are decked with fairy lights. What a magical scene that is!
Where to live — the Upper East Side
The Upper East Side has everything — from fashionable shops and museums to cafés, restaurants and bistros. And, of course, that very Manhattan spot: the coffee shop.
Where to eat breakfast
Our favourite for breakfast or brunch is the Three Guys coffee shop on Madison Avenue at Seventy-Fifth Street. It has a vast and varied menu, from eggs cooked however you wish to salads, pastas and assorted desserts.
Where to discover art
After breakfast or brunch, you can wander up Madison Avenue, window shopping, gazing at the beautiful clothes in the high-fashion shops. Then if you turn off at Eighty-Third Street on to Fifth Avenue you can walk into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And what a feast for the eyes there is in that marvellous place.
Impressionist paintings abound, and time flies inside the vast space as you walk through the galleries of paintings by the world’s greatest artists. The museum holds many exhibitions of works by famous painters throughout the year, and we always try to visit these as well. They are fascinating and transport us to other times and places.
Where to have dinner
Majorelle is a relatively new restaurant in New York. It is run by the noted restaurateur, Charles Masson, famous for his extraordinary flower arrangements. These abound in the refined, elegant dining room, designed by Michael Smith, and, in my opinion, the most beautiful in New York.
The cuisine is classical French and delicious. Some dishes have a hint of Morocco, a nod to the famous garden in Marrakesh from which this unique restaurant takes its name. A fine wine list and the flawless service are other reasons it has become so successful. It is located on East Sixty-Third Street. Bob and I like to go there for a special date on Saturday nights and enjoy being surrounded by such beauty. It is next door to the Lowell Hotel.
Where to drink cocktails
If you feel like a cocktail in eye-catching surroundings, go to the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue at Seventy-Sixth Street. Head for Bemelmans Bar, where the writer Ludwig Bemelmans painted beautiful murals on the walls, all of them from his children’s book series about a little girl called Madeline. The large-scale murals are the only surviving Bemelmans’ commission now still open to the public.
When we go there to enjoy the murals and the cheerful jazzy atmosphere, I usually order a Cosmopolitan, my favourite cocktail.
Where to be outdoors
For us, the best place to be outdoors in Manhattan is Central Park, that extraordinary urban oasis which is undoubtedly the greatest in the world. Just imagine this . . . seven bodies of water, 21 playgrounds, 26 ball fields, 58 miles of paths, statues and fountains, 250 acres of lawn, 9,000 benches and 20,000 trees, all spread across 843 acres.
It is so beautiful I usually wonder which fantastic garden to choose because I do love gardens the best. Everything is tempting: the little bridges over water, the winding paths alongside the Reservoir, the glorious clusters of flowering bushes, the green canopies of trees. We do have our favourite spots, of course.
The Conservatory Garden is now officially designated as a quiet zone, a place to sit and enjoy the scene or read a book. It is at its height of beauty in May, with beds of daffodils, narcissi, tulips and hyacinths, sleekly clipped hedges and flowering trees.
Another enticing spot is the Burnett Fountain, also located in the Conservatory Garden. I love the pond filled with lilies and other floating water flowers, and the statues of two children in the centre. The boy is stretched on a rock playing a flute; the girl is standing, holding a dish, with a bird resting on her arm. It’s a lovely image and I can’t help thinking of Peter Pan and Wendy when I come across them.
Bob and I are enchanted by the unique and engaging places in Manhattan, but for all that, we do love being in our home on Park Avenue, with the colourful flowerbeds below, the trees swaying in the breeze. I can sit in our library reading someone else’s book, or writing one of my own. As we often tell each other, home is the best.
‘Master of His Fate’, published by HarperCollins, is out on November 29
Photographs: Brian Shumway; Dreamstime; Don Riddle