Review: The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Title: The Lions of Fifth Avenue
Author: Fiona Davis
Published: August 2020, Dutton Books
Format: ARC E-copy, 368 pages
Source: Netgalley via Publisher

A Good Morning America Book Club Pick!

page-turner for booklovers everywhere! . . . A story of family ties,
their lost dreams, and the redemption that comes from discovering
truth.”—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife

nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis’s latest historical novel, a
series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving
two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn’t ask for more out of
life–her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library,
allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building,
and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate
Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the
Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her
studies take her all over the city, she finds herself drawn to Greenwich
Village’s new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club–a
radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share
their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women’s rights. Soon,
Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother.
But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the
home and institution she loves, she’s forced to confront her shifting
priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her
grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she’s
wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But
the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and
books for the exhibit Sadie’s running begin disappearing from the
library’s famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit
and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private
security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly
become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome
truths about her own family heritage–truths that shed new light on the
biggest tragedy in the library’s history.

My thoughts: I
simply adore reading Fiona Davis’s books – I love the way she takes an
iconic building in one of my favorite cities in the world, NYC – and
brings it to life, giving us the history in such an engaging story that
you can’t help but feel part of. This time, The New York Public Library is her inspiration.

While I usually do not know anything about the buildings that Fiona writes about in her books, this time not only did I know the building, I have been to it many times. I love going to the New York Public Library whenever I have the chance when I am in NYC, and have made a point of checking out the exhibits that they have on display. I did not, however know that there was at one point a residence in the library…this is why I love reading not only Fiona’s books, but historical fiction in general. I always learn something new!

The dual narrative works so well with this story, moving effortlessly back and forth, slowly drawing you in. It’s easy to get wrapped up into both Laura and Sadie’s stories and with the mystery of the missing books, which is the connection between the two timelines…and I was often frustrated when it came time to switch between the two timelines…there were times, I just wanted to stay in one part or the other a bit longer! I was equally invested in both timelines and I found myself rooting for both women, both of which I found to be strong-willed and smart.

This book had me yearning to get back to the city, to visit the New York Public Library. I don’t know when I will be able to get back there next, but I know that I will certainly look at it in a different light.

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