Friday, October 23, 2020

Book Review: The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Pages: 354
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 4, 2020
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Address
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "In 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.  It's 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.  Eighty 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."


The year is 1913 and the Lyons family live at the famous New York Public Library. Jack Lyons is the library superintendent and he and his family get to live in the superintendent's quarters within the library.  Laura Lyons, Jack's wife, is a mother of two children, but she wants so much more. She applies to Columbia Journalism School, which changes her life drastically.  While Laura is going to school, she encounters people who live much differently than her including feminists in Greenwich Village. These women are extremely progressive for the time period and all of this has her thinking about her own life. Then books start to go missing at the New York Public Library and not just any books--valuable books like first editions! This doesn't look good for Jack.  Jump ahead to 1993 and we meet Sadie Donovan, Laura's granddaughter, who works at the library in the rare books section. Strangely enough, Sadie starts dealing with her own issues at the New York Public Library; more rare books start to go missing and people are suspecting her, just like her grandfather!  The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a quiet historical mystery that book lovers will especially appreciate it.

Laura Lyons is such an interesting character in The Lions of Fifth Avenue.  She is before her time and I appreciated her desire for more.  I also liked her interest in feminism.  Her experience at Columbia Journalism School and the blatant sexism she endured was really a powerful reminder of how far women have come and have far we still have to go.  Also, I liked how Davis connected Laura and Sadie's story not only though the New York Public Library, but also through their familial connection.  The mystery that surrounds both generations had me turning the pages. Ultimately, Sadie hires an investigator to help her solve the mystery as this scandal could end her career! I was dying to know how Davis would connect the mystery despite the many years separating both Jack and Sadie.

I adored the setting of the New York Public Library in The Lions of Fifth Avenue. Can you think of a better setting for a book lover? I didn't even know the superintendent could live at the library, so that was really interesting.  Davis's descriptions of the library's grand architecture as well as the invaluable books really brought this aspect of the story to life for me. I really want to visit this library now!

Overall, The Lions of Fifth Avenue was a satisfying historical novel.  There were some sections that were a little slower than others, but overall, I was immensely satisfied with this historical family drama steeped in mystery. 

Are you a fan of Fiona Davis? Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below.




  1. I love Fiona Davis, and the library setting was just perfection!

    1. I have only read two of Davis's novels, but have really enjoyed them and I agree--the setting of this novel as fantastic! Thanks for visiting, Angela.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts This is on my wishlist.

    1. Thanks, Shelley! I hope you enjoy it and thanks for dropping by.


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