Cover Image: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I absolutely loved this book. I have always been a fan of Fiona Davis and she did not disappoint with the Lions of Fifth Avenue. Honestly, I really enjoy that this book is written in her typical format with the dual timeline and based around strong women characters. Also, you cannot go wrong with a book that takes place in a library. It is not just any library, but the New York Public Library! About a year ago, one of my co-workers sent me an article on the apartment that was in the NYPL and I have been fascinated by it. Then Fiona Davis writes a book about it. My heart was elated. 

As mentioned before, this book is written in a dual timeline that features two strong-willed women that are from the same family several generations apart. Laura Lyons lived in the library with her superintendent husband and family in 1913. As she struggles with motherhood, being a wife and wanting more she is developed into a character that you can't help but relate to. You feel bad for her and try to put yourself in her shoes, but she starts to make poor decisions and you start to second guess her. Next we meet her granddaughter Sadie, a curator at the New York Public Library. Sadie is more relatable and likable. I found myself rooting for her often as the book coursed through. The other characters in this book were not as developed, but still had importance. 

There were times where I became bored with the book, but I can't tell if it was me or the book. I'm going with me. I enjoyed the book, but it was not my favorite by Fiona Davis. I still have a very soft spot for The Dollhouse. However, I would definitely recommend this to a friend who likes historical fiction, strong female characters, a little bit of mystery.
Was this review helpful?
The Lions of 5th Avenue by Fiona Davis is an incredible novel that takes place from the early 1900s to the late 1990s, with a backdrop encompassing life inside the New York Public Library.  Ms. Davis explores the suffragette movement, and other sensitive social issues of the times, while attempting to solve an 80 year old family mystery.  Fiona Davis has written a fascinating book... definitely a page turner, and very hard to put down.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Fiona Davis does it again! As you know, I'm a huge fan of this historical fiction author and her books centered around iconic New York City landmarks.. These days, when I hesitate to board planes and trains, I loved traveling to the Big Apple via Fiona’s fifth novel. 

Using a dual timeline, The Lions of Fifth Avenue revolves around two strong women and the thefts of rare and valuable books from the New York Public Library. Not everyone may love the choices Sadie and Laura make along the way. But isn’t that what books are for? To open our eyes and minds to ways of life not familiar to us?

I identified with Laura who “felt a restlessness in her bones everyday.” She worried “time was going by so quickly, and she wanted to do more, be more.” She wanted a challenge, a purpose, a passion. 

“The building and actual history create a scaffold for me to hang my story on,” Fiona said in our interview (linked below). And so she weaves the tale around a superintendent and his family who once lived (this is true!), surrounded by rooms of books, in this grand library.

I was sad when this novel, with its careful research and historic details and beautiful characters, ended. And I think you will be too! Available for pre-order now. Thanks to @dutton for an advanced copy of this book.
📸: @nypl @fionajdavis
https://whoimettoday.com/creativity/fiona-davis-historical-fiction-author/
https://www.instagram.com/p/CBk154nn5I-/
Was this review helpful?
First line: She had to tell Jack.

Summary: The Lyons family lives in the famous NYPL building with Jack Lyons working as the caretaker for the iconic library. When several rare and famous books go missing, the family is under suspect. Meanwhile in the future, the granddaughter of Jack and Laura Lyons works at the NYPL as the curator of the rare books divisions and investigates thefts of her own. Her history and her present collide in this dramatic historical mystery.

My Thoughts: I love historical fiction and anything having to do with the NYPL 42nd Street building, so I was naturally excited about this book.

I appreciated a true fictionalization of NYPL. The Lyons family is completely made up, unlike other NYPL fiction pieces that use the real caretaker's family as characters. The changes in time were handled well, and I enjoyed trying to figure out the connections between the 1993 NYPL and the 1918 NYPL. The tragic nature of Laura Lyons life really spoke to me, and I felt for her granddaughter Sadie, as she worked as a librarian and researched her own grandparents' sorrow-filled life. The book doesn't exactly have a happy ending, and I felt that was appropriate for the story line.

FYI: Sex scenes and same sex relationships.
Was this review helpful?
As an NYPL employee I am definitely partial! This delightful story bounces back and forth between the 1990s and the 1910s as we discover the parallel stories of a woman and her granddaughter and their relationships to the iconic New York Public Library’s Schwartzman Building in Midtown Manhattan. Both women must contend with the theft of valuable rare books from the library, but the prose is much more literary than a straightforward mystery, and we learn a lot about each character’s inner lives.
Was this review helpful?
Two interrelated stories set in the New York Public Library eighty years and two generations apart.  In 1913, Laura Lyons and her family actually live within the library in a seven room apartment reserved for the building superintendent, her husband. It is a year she tries to reach out for more in her life, for a journalism degree and participation in the new ideas of Greenwich Village and the Heterodoxy Club.  In 1993, her granddaughter, Sadie,  is one of the librarians of the special Berg collection preparing for a coming exhibition.  But during both of their times there, one-of-a-kind books begin to disappear.
The library itself takes center stage here, a character in its own right, from the lions outside to hidden balconies and dumb waiters within.  The family's access after closing is irresistible to view, and learning of various idiosyncrasies of the building as characters search for missing materials is fascinating.  The plot moved along very well; the secondary characters were quite well fleshed out and believable, the research seemed thorough and not overbearing. I guess my only problem was with the two main characters.  The elements seemed to be there, but they just didn't come alive for me.  Laura was pushed more by events than her own decisions, but was a good deal more interesting than Sadie, who was so bland, well, I'm sorry, she was a very dull girl and gives librarians a bad reputation.  And librarians will already be having hissy fits over the lax security in the book's library.  If it was that easy to hide, the place would have been stripped clean years ago.  Dear me.  Overlook that and take a better liking to Sadie and you'll really, really enjoy the book.
Was this review helpful?
At first glance, The Lions of Fifth Avenue, is another addition in the dual timeline method of storytelling. But as the story moves from the New York Public Library in 1913 and 1993, I was drawn in to the developing connections between the two main characters.  A story about the two women who inhabit the library would be an interesting story on its own. But the author adds in a mystery or stolen books and the choices made that can have a lasting impact. I
Was this review helpful?
This book has all the requisite components for my favorite type of book: mystery, love, family secrets and dysfunction.  The book also addresses some of women’s issues at the earlier time.  It was so compelling, I had to finish it and in so doing missed two Fitbit walks.  It takes place in two different time periods, but gets all tied together at the end.  .i loved reading about the main branch of The New York Library too.
Was this review helpful?
It's New York, 1913. Jack and Laura Lyons and their children are living in an apartment tucked away inside the New York City Library. Jack is superintendent of the Library by day and a writer by night. Laura becomes a journalism student at Columbia University where a whole new world is about to open up to her. Fast forward 80 years, Sadie Donovan, granddaughter of Laura, works in the same library. They both are searching for more in their lives. However, it will come at a cost. Laura is introduced to the Heterodoxy Club- a free-thinking club for the New Woman. She is so intrigued by the concepts of this club that she begins to question who she is and what roles she ought to have as a woman. Sadie is curator and protector of the Berg Collection at the Library. She is still mourning her divorce and isn't quite sure who she is and what she should be doing in her life. She doesn't want anyone to know that she is related to Laura because in 1913, rare books and manuscripts started to disappear and Sadie believes her Grandfather was the culprit. Her job takes a nightmarish turn when books and manuscripts also begin to disappear from the collection that she is supposed to be protecting. Are the two mysteries related? Can each woman find what they are ultimately looking for?
I was so intrigued by the concept of this book. As a book lover, the idea of living in a library, especially the NYC Public Library, was fascinating. I was pulled in from the first chapter. I am sometimes wary of dual timeline novels because they don't go back and forth smoothly; the storyline ends up getting lost in the scramble between eras. This was not the case however in this book. It flowed so smoothly between times and the detailed descriptions of both times left me wanting more! I even took a virtual tour of the NYC Library just so that I could see what Laura and Sadie were seeing! The characters throughout the book were complex. Laura lived in a time were everything for women was changing. A woman was expected to do and be certain things. Going against the status quo was not to be born. It was exciting for her and the women that she surrounded herself with to take charge of their lives and expect/do more than what society considered proper. There was a strong feminist theme throughout the book. The mystery aspect of the book was wonderful. It came with surprises and an ending I wasn't expecting. I felt a range of emotions while reading. I felt that Jack and Laura were oftentimes selfish and in their own little worlds- which was apparent in their marriage and in their frequent neglect of their children. At the same time, I felt empathy will Laura's need to be something more than what she was and Jack's desire to provide for his family. I wanted to give this book 5 stars but I wasn't comfortable with some of the illicit relationships and language. I was intrigued by this book and will probably read more by this author.
I thank NetGalley, the Author, and Publisher of this book for providing me with an Advanced Reader's Copy. All opinions in this review are my own.
Was this review helpful?
How have I gone this far in life and not known that there once was an apartment in the NYC Library? Immediately, I wanted to learn more. I wasn't crazy about the main character, but I did feel sorry for her. I really enjoyed the perspective of Laura Lyons and learning more about the struggle for women's rights during that time period. I thought it was well written but there were parts of it that did not hold my attention for long. I was hoping for more about Pearl as an adult, but I did enjoy what we got.
Was this review helpful?
(Not purchasing only because I work at a high school library and probably won’t have the budget.)
Ooooooooo...........this was cool. Really cool. I mean, it’s a librarian’s dream read. So many books, writers, bookstores, readers, libraries and all the ephemera thereof - it’s just all so good. If it’s possible to envy a character in a book, then I have such envy and I have it HARD! Why can’t I be Sadie and work in a research library where I have to put on gloves to handle stuff??? Why aren’t I living in a cool flat in NYC just down the street from my really awesome job at the NYPL? Not fair!!! 
I loved this book! Loved it. Dreamed about it actually. Sigh. So good. 💜📚
Was this review helpful?
Fiona Davis is at the top of her form in this captivating historical novel about a family who lives inside the stone fortress known as New York Public Library in the early years of the twentieth century. The matriarch, Laura Lyons,  finds herself drawn to a bigger life and must ultimately figure out a path that includes both her family and her larger ambitions. Many years later, her granddaughter, Sadie Donovan, a curator at the library, learns more than she ever could have imagined about her family history. In the past as well as the present day, a series of thefts roil the library. With her trademark blend of fact and fiction, Davis has written a memorable, atmospheric page turner.
Was this review helpful?
I loved the idea of the mystery surrounding the New York Public Library.  I also really enjoyed the history behind the apartment at the library.  Some aspects of the book seemed implausible and/or unnecessary.  While the story was interesting, it lost me at the end.  It was a good book, just not great.
Was this review helpful?
I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
All opinions are my own.

4.5 stars
I've read all of the author's previous books, and I love how she combines the old with the new and includes places and/or people that actually existed once upon a time.
I really, really enjoyed this book. What's not to like about a multi-POV, multi-timeline mystery set in a library?
I didn't really like Jack's character, but sadly I think that was probably accurate for the time period.
If I could change anything about the book, I would have wanted more time with Pearl, or an opportunity for her to tell more of her story in her own words.
I flew through this book and finished in one day, because the writing was easy to read and the story flowed very well. I didn't want to put it down!
I would recommend this book to anyone else who is an avid historical fiction reader.
Was this review helpful?
I thought this book was engaging, and I absolutely loved every part that took place in the NYPL. Even though I've been to NYC many many times (I live right outside the city), I have never been to the NYPL. I had planned to go in the spring, but the pandemic put everything on hold. So this book was the perfect way to travel there in my mind. 

This book did not shy away from the harsh realities of life. But there was some hope there, through the tragedies, that I enjoyed. At times, the plot kind of went all over the place, but I it did keep you on your toes. I would have liked content about people of color, especially relating to black women's rights, included in the 1914 section. 

Thank you for the review copy.
Was this review helpful?
The Lions of Fifth Avenue is largely set in/around the New York Public Library, c. 1913 and 1993. The dual narrative weaves the tale of a novelist and his journalist wife who live with their young family in the library’s apartment earlier in the century with that of a special collections librarian later in the century. The infamous, real-life disappearance of Poe’s rare Tamerlane from the NYPL provides a compelling link between the two storylines. We all went bananas when photos of those hidden NYPL apartments were “uncovered,” and now author Fiona Davis has done us the favor of populating them with writers, librarians, and book thieves! A perfect biblio-beach read.
Was this review helpful?
I love this latest novel by Fiona Davis! She weaves together the stories of Laura (1913) and Sadie (1993), two women who are connected for very different reasons to the New York Public Library. There's intrigue, disappointment, hope, romance, and so many surprises. A wonderful read full of wonderful characters.
Was this review helpful?
New York City, unsolved mysteries, books, family secrets 🤫📚🦁

First of all, I’d like to say that this cover is GOREOUS! Fiona Davis centres all her books around historic buildings in NYC and this one focuses on the Fifth Avenue branch of the New York Public Library. As a book lover, this was definitely the selling point for me. I think every readers dream is to live in a library and in this book, that was a reality for the Lyons family in 1913. Meanwhile, precious and valuable books are being stolen out from under their noses and the Lyons are under scrutiny.

Fast forward to 1993, Sadie is getting a large collection ready for display and books are going missing once again, and there’s an interesting connection to what took place back in 1914.

I loved the dual timeline aspect of this book. I did find myself interested in both storylines and they both had enough going on, I was always happy to go back to each one. One thing I particularly liked about this book was the feminist happenings in 1913 NYC. Laura loved being a wife and mother but she wanted more, which was very forward thinking for that time. I also loved learning about the Heterodoxy Club (which was real) and Dr. Amelia Potter’s role in changing healthcare in NYC (again, based on a real female physician from the early 20th century). These were unexpected components of the books but I found it so interesting. We all know how hard women had to fight to break out of the mold society had created for their roles, and I loved seeing Laura be purposeful in achieving her goals. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton Books for providing me with an advance e-ARC. If you love books, historical fiction, and NYC, pick this one up on August 4th 😊
Was this review helpful?
It's not often that I read such an intriguing book. I requested this book because it was set in New York City and a library. Dual time lines had me tearing through the pages to see where this was headed. 

Fiona Davis has written a novel that will draw a wide readership. It’s sure to be a hit with book groups and with people seeking a thrilling read. Can’t wait to recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
This was my first Fiona Davis read, and I picked it up because it has a fantastic premise (also, Lions in the title -- NGL that was part of it). I do want to note that I'm not typically a historical fiction reader.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue, as I've said, has such a great concept (what avid reader doesn't dream of living in a library?). It's told in dual POV, 80 years apart, which is always a risky choice. In this case, I'd say it worked pretty well in holding my interest. It was fun uncovering the mystery and I enjoyed the similarities in events that happen to both Laura and Sadie (her descendant). There are some great ideas incorporated in both storylines.

On the other hand, some of the development (especially character & romance) felt a bit rushed, which may be in part because each storyline had limited space (half a book) in which to play out. I think if the whole story had been one POV and timeline instead of two, there would've been a bit more room for that development.

Overall, the story is an interesting one if you're looking for something that's fun and not too heavy a read. Thank you Dutton Books for sending me a free advanced e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?