Cover Image: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

The Lions of Fifth Avenue

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Member Reviews

What is not to love about a book set in a library?  Especially one as spectacular as the New York Public Library.  The author does a great job of weaving the story through the halls, rooms and collections of this historic and beautiful building. I’ve  been anticipating this book for a while because my great grandfather helped build the library and this book easily transport you to the turn of the last century. The story is a dual timeline mystery with two progressive protagonists who fight for the people and places they believe in. It was a nice reminder of how the lives of women have changed over the years. My only problem with the story was the original heroine kept apologizing to her family for having to live in an apartment at the library and in my opinion it would be an honor of a lifetime and quite an adventure. Thank you for the opportunity to read this terrific title. I think will be well received by book lovers everywhere.
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One of my favorite genres is historical fiction, and from that I really enjoy those set in NYC. So, when I saw this book, I knew it was one that I wanted to read and review!

Can I just say how COOL it would be to live in the apartments of the New York Public Library?! Laura Lyons and her family live in one of these apartments in 1913, while she pursues a Journalism degree (yes, those of you that know I teach Journalism, my heart just jumped even more!).

Fast forward to 1993, Sadie Donovan is a curator in the NYPL and finds herself in the midst of a mystery as items begin disappearing. Sadie is related to Laura (her grandmother) and quickly finds there’s a connection between the two!

This is my first Fiona Davis novel, and I am HOOKED! She did an amazing amount of research, and crafted a mesmerizing story. So well done! Hold my tea while I go figure out how to visit these apartments I never knew existed.
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I always enjoy Fiona Davis’s formulaic historical fiction; two timelines, historical and modern day, that connect eventually in some way. This is lovely for librarians!
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I’m impressed that Fiona Davis can keep churning out novels at this pace while maintaining this level of quality, but here we are. 

Davis sticks to her standard format of dual female narrator/dual timeline and focusing on a specific piece of architecture/site of historical significance in New York City. 

This time we get the New York Public library, pretty much the ideal settling for an historical novel in Manhattan. 

We meet Sadie in 1993, a curator at the library who has mysterious connections to some of the institution’s history, and Laura in 1913, a wife, mother, and aspiring journalist whose family lives in the library. 

Did you hear that? They LIVE. IN. THE. LIBRARY, in an apartment on site that truly did exist at the time as housing for the library superintendent and his family. 

There are significant (and perhaps connected) book thefts in both timelines, and then we’re off to the races, as Davis lets us get to know both women while unfolding each era’s mystery and its relationship to the protagonists. 

Davis wrote a winning character in Sadie, a driven and likable—if awkward—gal. Laura is tougher to get behind. While we can all sympathize with her desire to pursue a career of her own when that would have been next to impossible for a woman of her station, Laura actively makes choices over and over again that worsen her situation and make her a less sympathetic character.

It’s much easier to get behind Sadie. Her flaws aren’t the kind that would gall many readers. If anything, they only serve to make her more relatable. 

While I often felt bad for Laura and wanted the best for her, she’s somewhat of a naïf (not one of my favorite character traits in novels) and alarmingly impulsive and—later—defensive. Laura continuously makes poor decisions, and ones that directly and often negatively impact the lives of others in her orbit. 

The side characters aren’t particularly well developed. In most cases that’s probably a blessing, though there a few cases in which I would really have liked to see more. The library and its history though...Those are practically a third protagonist, and Davis does a much better job with the buildings and books in question than she does even in the end with most of the human characters.

Still, these complaints are minor, and as she has each time before, Davis gave us another delightful historical mystery. In terms of setting, this was among her best, and the plot concludes itself nicely (but not too nicely) in the end. 

This one isn’t quite on par with Chelsea Girls or The Dollhouse, but it’s a fun read sure to please Davis fans such as myself as well as library enthusiasts.
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Another new author for me and I can’t wait to read more by her!

Rare books have gone missing from the New York Public Library in 1913 and now it is happening again in 1993. Could there be a connection?

In 1913, the superintendent of NYPL and his family, live in an apartment located in the NYPL. (Yes, there is/was an apartment!) The superintendent is an aspiring author and his wife is also a writer working in the gender-driven confines of the era. Breaking the barriers will be difficult and carry consequences.

In 1993, a young librarian, who happens to be the granddaughter, is appointed curator of the rare books exhibit and materials go missing once again.

This is an intriguing mystery with interesting characters and quality writing. (Except for one instance of the word “dove” instead of the correct term “dived” in the 1913 section.) 

There were many fascinating facts about the library. I toured it recently and now wish I could tour it again with an eye to the details from this book!

This book will appeal to readers of historical fiction, lovers of libraries, and anyone who enjoys a good mystery. I give it an enthusiastic 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton, for the eARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
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I loved this book for many reasons. First, as a librarian, I applaud the author’s depiction of librarians as unrelenting seekers of information. The history of the New York Public Library is brought to life through the character portrayals. And the mystery And secrets surrounding the missing books make it a top notch read.
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05.17.2020| Fiona Davis has done it again! What a fun book. I love all of the history surrounding the NYC public library. She has a great way of describing people and places. Thanks to @netgalley for the #arc advance copy I really enjoyed it. 🌟🌟🌟
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The is a fabulous historical/modern adventure mystery. The reader is given insight into the the history of the New York Public Library and a more modern look into the workings of the library.  Sophie is a wonderful, endearing  heroine. The mystery in the story keeps you reading. The historical aspects of the story keep the reader entwined in the tale the story is not bogged down with historical facts, but intrigued into wanting to know more.. The mystery of the tale continues to the end of the tale.
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I don’t know what it was, but I just did not enjoy this book. I’ve read a lot of books lately, it seems, told in the dual narratives of historical women who are somehow connected to modern-day divorcees who work in academia and are investigating their lives (this one, “The Lost Jewels”) and this one, while it was intriguing, focused more on character arcs that left me feeling a little cold than the historical mysteries at hand. There was nothing wrong with this, per se - it just wasn’t what I was looking for.
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Sadie and Laura are connected in more ways than just family.  The NYPL figures in their lives greatly along with the theft of books that can never be replaced.   The history throughout this book is fascinating. Fiona Davis has written another wonderful story about NYC that draws the reader in until the final line.
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I have enjoyed all of Fiona Davis's books, and this one was no exception. In The Lions of Fifth Avenue, Ms. Davis blends rich architectural detail, historical facts, and fictional characters to create an intriguing whodunit. I also appreciate her alternating chapters between New York in 1914, and in 1993.
I was sad when it ended.
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The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis is a wonderful story - both a coming-of-age story and a mystery - about two women in two very different times. Laura is a wife, mother and journalism student who becomes involved with a group of forward-thinking, feminists in 1913 NYC. Their presence in her life leads Laura to question everything she thought she knew about herself, her goals and her role in society, and ultimately sets her on course to become a famous feminist essayist. In 1993, Sadie is a middle-aged divorcee and library curator in charge of a new exhibit which includes Laura's work. The two women have in common the New York Public Library - Laura and her family live in an apartment inside the library, and Sadie works there. But there's more. Both characters are embroiled in mysteries when rare books show up missing. What happened to the books, and who is responsible?

Although the book is arranged in alternating chapter stories, Laura is really the main character, and her storyline is the more compelling of the two. And, although the story includes a who-dun-it component, The Lions of Fifth Avenue isn't really a mystery. Instead, it is Laura's coming-of-age story at a time when feminism was changing the face of America and the world, changing family dynamics and changing what was possible for women. 

I enjoyed this book, especially the Laura's character arc. I would have liked a little more out of Sadie's characterization, and felt like she was somewhat short-shifted. There were some interesting possibilities that were hinted at but not followed through, which was disappointing. I thought the author's use of a dual timeline was effective and connected the two stories quite well, while also answering many of the questions that were brought up. 

No spoilers, but I thought the conclusion to Sadie's story was both abrupt and poorly foreshadowed. I'll be curious to hear how other readers feel about that ;)

If you're look for a fun read that's very NYC centric and has a little bit of a mystery, The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a great choice. The characters are engaging, the setting is well made, the writing is cohesive and sharp and the story is a lot of fun.

This review is based on an advance copy read.
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Libraries? Rare books? A mystery? Yes, a combination I have to read. And so I did, as I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy thanks to NetGalley and Plume books in exchange for an honest review.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue starts in 1913 with Laura Lyons, a young mother, living with her family in the New York City Public Library. There is an apartment within the library for the supervisor, which is Laura's husband. (I am fascinated by this apartment as I had heard there was one there and love the idea!) Laura is a bit ahead of her times but pushing through as woman in a man's world. She wants to be a journalist and so much more. Her part of the story is filled with twists, as she finds her way through many struggles and times of sadness.

We then forward to 1993 and Sadie, who works in the rare books - Berg Collection - of the New York City Public Library. She's working on an exhibit and as she works, rare books start disappearing. She also has personal struggles to deal with along with getting to know herself and her family history.

And so this story goes, back and forth from Laura to Sadie as they both deal with missing rare books, the question of who is the book thief and where they fit in life. There are several mysteries to solve while sorting out their own identity. This is definitely worth the read and I recommend it to all fans of books, libraries, mystery and historic novels.

This the is the first I've read Fiona Davis, a well known author, that I just had not gotten to but was aware of. I have some catching up to do!
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The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis was satisfying read. The reader is transported back in time to the early years of the New York Public Library where this mystery starts and then to the more recent present where the mystery will play out.  Fiona Davis did her research and made this beautiful library come alive.  Having visited this library for the first time in the past year and being a librarian as well of lover of book (of course) this book checked all of the boxes for me.

Thank you Dutton Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.
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Fiona Davis has produced another compelling and unusual novel.  "The Lions of Fifth Avenue" is told from two perspectives across two generations.  The fabulous New York Public Library building has just been completed in 1913 when the library superitendent, his wife, and two children, move into an apartment within the massively ornate building. Laura Lyons, his wife, has a strong desire to be more than a traditional wife and mother. With difficulty, she pursues a course in journalism at Columbia University, a male-dominated profession.  Meanwhile, the library is rocked by rare book thefts that seemingly point a finger to the family. Outside the library, Laura falls in with a seductively bohemian group which propels her life into tragic and powerful circumstances.  Laura's character is sensitively portrayed and provides insight into the difficulty that women of that time had in trying to go beyond the traditional roles of wife and mother.  
Jump ahead two generations to 1993, and her granddaughter Clarissa is trying to establish an independent, solitary life at the same location - as an assistant curator of an historic collection at the New York Public Library.  Clarissa slowly begins to uncover her cloudy connection to her deceased grandmother, Laura Lyon, now recognized as an important early feminist essayist. At the same time, rare book thefts hit the library, and suspicion falls on Clarissa, through her background to Laura Lyons and the thefts of that era and her own circumstances.
Davis always provides complex stories that deal with issues in many layers, building suspense and resulting in a satisfying ending.  Her research is impeccable, and her writing is page-turning. Highly recommended for all public library fiction collections.  This novel will be especially compelling to book lovers, rare book aficionados, library lovers, and librarians.
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The cover itself captivated me. We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I found this cover along with the book description so intriguing that I just had to request it even though I knew I already had more than a dozen books to read and review.

I’ll admit the first few chapters confused me. Who ever heard of a family living inside a library? And how’d we get from this family to a girl who works at the same library? It took several chapters for me to grasp that the storyline went from one time period to another. Even the dates mentioned at the start of the chapters didn’t catch my attention. However jumping from two different eras and bringing it all together at the end seems quite popular these days, so I shouldn’t be too surprised.

The family who live within the library walls is a young family where the father is the superintendent of the library, who is also writing a book. His spouse is a housewife, who also writes a column for the library newsletter and she aspires to be a journalist and eventually goes to journalism school at Columbia. They have two children, who are watched by their grandmother while their mother goes to school and does her journalism research.

First editions of valuable books are reported stolen. It seems the library is unable to figure out who the thief is. An unexpected series of events happens suddenly in the heat of the moment while tensions are high.

Then there’s the library employee, someone who will become the curator of a particularly precious collection that somehow is finding herself in another case of thievery of precious editions of books. The news comes out, the curator happens to be related to the family who lives within the library walls.

Where the coveted books ever found? What happened to the family who lived in the library? How is the curator related to the family?

The Lions of Fifth Avenue was provided complimentary in exchange for an honest review on NetGalley. I give this book five out of five tiaras because it brought me in an adventure I didn’t know was coming and it literally brought the storyline into my dreams!
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I ate this book up! I loved the storyline, the setting, and the mystery. I also loved all of the historical details included in the novel.
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This book started out very interesting but seemed to lose momentum and believability as the story went along.  The ending seemed convoluted and not very convincing.  Felt like the author had to find some way to wrap things up and find an ending.  Unsatisfying end to a good start.  I would not readily recommend this book, there are many other of this genre I enjoyed more and would be more likely to recommend.
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A family living in the NYPL, missing valuable books, a librarian: what could be more perfect?  I don't know how Fiona Davis does it, but all of her books start out one way and then bring in a myriad of different stories, interweave them together, bring them to a happy conclusion and you have a great read!  This one, in particular, though is special to all book and library lovers and has a little for everyone else--mystery, romance, a little bit of Nancy Drew, some office inrtrigue and of course the beloved lions Patience and Fortitude, although they are called by different names.  This is a book made for librarians...and everyone else.
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Fiona Davis once again creates a distinctive novel between time and place and successfully brings characters of the past and present together. The Lions of Fifth Avenue weaves together both a present and past mystery at the New York Public Library with the lives of family members from both time periods. There is individual growth and discovery, love,  loss, re-discovery, healing and a lot of sluething. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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