Cover Image: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

The Lions of Fifth Avenue

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Member Reviews

Unfortunately, I didn’t love this book. The premise was good, but the story was bland. The characters lacked depth and several significant plot points were predictable.
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Fiona Davis does it again! A dual timeline story of strong women with mystery and and a bit of romance, set in the iconic building of the New York Public library. Davis does what she does so well. This story focuses on Laura, the wife of the superintended of the New York Public Library in the early 1900's. Laura and her family get to live in an apartment inside the Public Library building.  Sadie, the great grand daughter of Laura,  is the focus of the second time line and she works at the New York Public Library in the 1990's. In both timelines, items start to go missing of the from the library and these women are both caught up in it. 

I really liked how both of the these women were portrayed. They were strong and independent, working hard for what they wanted and for their goals. They both fought against the norms of their time and sought out the truth as best as they could. They both felt alive and real and they did have their struggles and life was not perfect. And I loved that it centered on the library. Davis always uses place in her novels almost as a character and it was so fun to learn more about the New York Public Library.
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I received an electronic ARC from Penguin Group Dutton through NetGalley.
Davis has created another historical novel that pulls readers in. As is her style, she tells the story in two time periods: 1913 (Laura) and 1993 (Sadie).  Laura is Sadie's grandmother but the relationship is complicated by events that happened in the earlier time period.
The New York Public Library is the perfect setting and is, indeed, a third main character. Laura's family lives in the apartment in the library as her husband is the Superintendent. Rare books are stolen during Jack's tenure and were never found. Those thefts will come to the forefront in 1993 when rare books are again stolen while Sadie is the Head Curator for one of the collections at the same library.
Sadie explores the family history and unravels mysteries of both her grandparents and her mother and uncle. She even figures out the thieves in the current rash of thefts.
Some of the secondary characters are flat and unlikeable but serve their purpose to move the plot forward. 
I appreciate the research Davis does to bring her locations to life. Even if readers have never seen this library, the descriptions bring it to life.
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Fiona Davis' adoration of New York City and its institutions certainly comes through in her books. This time, her focus is on the venerable New York Public Library, connecting the mysterious (fictional) thefts of books that took place 80 years apart.
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The New York Public Library is the setting of a story that covers the experiences of two women and thefts of books from the library.  Laura and her family live inside the library in 1913.  Sadie works at the New York Public Library in 1993.  Sadie dips into the past to learn about her family ties with Laura and to solve the mystery of the missing books.
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Davis always writes well conceived and executed novels. “Lions” is no exception. Great character development in a spare and concise way. Two story lines, one from the 1910’s and one from the 1990’s, circle and intertwine smoothly and come to a great ending.
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"I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

I think I'm one of the few people who has never read a book by Fiona Davis but a book set in the New York Public Library intrigued me enough to make this my first. 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue follows two female characters, Laura Lyons and her grand-daughter, Sadie Donovan. Laura's story opens in 1913. Her husband Jack is the superintendent of the library. One of the perks is that the two of them, along with their children Harry and Pearl live in an apartment in the library. Jack is a writer currently working on his "masterpiece". Laura also has ambition, while she loves her family, she wants more. Laura applies and is accepted into the Columbia Journalism School, which is a big deal as very few women go there. While pursuing stories for her studies, she encounters the Heterodoxy Club,  an all-female club where women voice their opinions on birth control, suffrage and women's rights. Laura begins to question her life and her role as wife and mother. On top of all of this, valuable books begin to disappear and she and Jack are suspects. 

Sadie's story takes place in 1993. She is a curator at the New York Public Library. After a failed marriage and a romantic encounter with a co-worker that goes wrong, Sadie closes herself off to life. The library is her life.  Her mother Pearl just recently died. Sadie is in charge of an exhibit which will feature the walking stick that belonged to her grandmother, Laura Lyons, who became a well known essayist. But soon, books start disappearing and like with Laura, suspicion falls on Sadie. She teams up with a private security expert, Nick Adriano, to investigate what is going on and how this ties into her family's past. 

I will say, this book held my interest as they mystery deepened. I really wanted to know who was behind all of this? Was the same person behind these thefts as before? Could it be Sadie? The ending was fairly satisfactory and there was a point that I kind of "saw it coming", but I enjoyed the book. I normally find with books taking place in two different eras one story suffers, but this wasn't the case here. Just when I would think, I like Laura's story more, we would get back to Sadie and I would feel the same. I don't think this will be my last Fiona Davis book.
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It’s 1993 and Sadie Donovan is a 43-year-old divorced New York Public Library librarian working with the coveted Berg Collection trying to prove herself worthy of a promotion. When rare editions begin to go missing from the Berg, threads to her past start becoming unravelled. 

The story jumps back and forth in time between Sadie and Laura Lyons, Sadie’s grandmother, who lived in the New York Public Library in 1913 shortly after it first opened with her family and husband who served as the library’s superintendent. Both women struggle with balancing work and troubled relationships while questioning how they want to live their lives.

The NYPL setting is what drew me into this story and kept me reading. I ate up the descriptions of the building and little tidbits about its history. There were storytelling conveniences that, as a reader, I can overlook, but I had many questions regarding characters’ decisions and actions that weren’t explained by the end of the book. I would have preferred delving into character motivations, rather than reading the thinly constructed love stories concerning Sadie and Laura. The character I was most drawn to was the library itself. The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a quick weekend read especially enjoyable for those familiar with the New York Public Library, as Davis’ story will take you right back there, standing between Patience and Fortitude.
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Fiona Davis presents two protagonists from the same family but of different generations. In 1993 Sadie Donovan is a curator at the New York Public Library. She is about to prepare and present her first exhibit. Coincidentally it features some of the work of her grandmother, Laura Lyons, a feminist essayist and journalist from 1913.

Both women, Sadie and Laura are impassioned about their work. Although separated by seventy years, they both confront the unexpected. Someone is targeting and stealing the most valuable editions from the prestigious area of the NYPL collection. Laura and Sadie also experience family situations that upend their plans and relationships. But the real star of this book is the New York Public Library – its collections, architecture and stewardship. Recommended.
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I really love Fiona Davis' brand of historical fiction--I'll take my history with a side of suspense and adventure every time!  This one was so much fun because the two narratives both featured the NY Public Library.  The book opens in 1913 when Laura Lyons and her husband are actually living in an apartment in the Fifth Avenue library with their two children.  Laura's husband, Jack, is a writer and is also the superintendent in charge of managing the library.  Laura loves her family, but she longs for a job outside the home, as well.  Her narrative includes a fascinating look at the early years of the feminist movement, as well as the many challenges women faced while trying to pursue careers in writing and in medicine.  The other narrative thread is about Sadie, Laura's librarian granddaughter, who is a curator at the same branch where her famous grandmother once lived.  Both narratives involve mysteries concerning stolen books, and both main characters were equally interesting.  Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and books about books!  Thanks to Netgalley, Dutton, and the author for the librarian preview.
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I really wanted to love this book and it had great potential. However, I feel like it had too much going on to truly be a great book. It is classified as historical fiction yet lacked many interesting facts in the time in which it is set. It had this mystery going on about the stolen books, but it’s not compelling enough for you to really be excited to find out “who done it”. It also had this feminist piece thrown in that I felt like wasn’t fully thought out, it didn’t add much to the story.
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I had HIGH hopes for this book due to the fact that I've read Ms. Davis previous two works. I was NOT disappointed. The two story lines were so well written and the way they dovetailed together... As a librarian, I am always fascinated by tales of other libraries. The main characters in this book were very believable and interesting. I just could not put the kindle down! I will be buying the book for my collection! I highly recommend purchasing this book.
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I've never read Fiona Davis, and I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, generally, but this was a fantastic and fascinating book. The time switch was really compelling because both characters had depth and fully explored life situations. I cared about both women and the struggles they were each going through, and the added bonus of the NY Public Library historical element was so fascinating. AND, then add the exploration of the history of the women's movement in NY City and what it would have been like as one of the few allowed women in Columbia University's journalism school ... just, wow. The author's note at the back of the book referencing all of the books she'd read to prepare this manuscript showed the extent of the research undertaken, and made the book all the more rich.

I found that the book really cranks up a notch after the halfway mark, the book thief mystery and chase really driving the story forward at that point.

My only complaint about the story is that the 1993 librarian, Sadie, is such a librarian trope that I rolled my eyes a lot. The quirky-retro-crazy-style-outgoing librarian is the new mousy-glasses-shushing librarian of "The Music Man," and neither is obviously accurate. But I guess women who just like books and working among them who have nondescript styles or who are regular people don't make for compelling narratives, so I'll give that a pass.
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I think because I am not able to travel right now, I have become obsessed about reading books about places I long to visit. Upon the recommendation of author Kristin Tubb, I started reading this because it is about the New York Public Library. Tubb has also had a series of books about the New York Public Library recently, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.

I am generally a reader on a mission. I am trying to get through books to get to the end. This was not the case with the Lions of Fifth Avenue. I savored each page and did not want the book to end. The characters were so vivid in my imagination and I thoroughly loved spending time with them. I especially liked Sadie as she reminded me so much of myself. I reveled in watching her grow as the story progressed. 

Overall, this book was so enjoyable because the author did a fabulous job with the plot. The story moved along so smoothly, even jumping from one time period to another. The mystery surrounding the family was enthralling. Of course, having the story set at one of the most famous libraries in the world and getting a glimpse into the inner workings made it that much better. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a good mystery and loves the library.
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Who knew that the New York Public Library once had an apartment in its interior that was inhabited by a librarian and his family?  This novel is set in both 1913 and 1993, with the focus on NYPL in both times.  In 1913, Laura Lyons is married to the librarian, and lives wth him in the new library's apartment with their two kids.  When rare documents disappear,  a series of events transforms Laura's life dramatically.  In 1993 Sadie is a devoted librarian at NYPL with no idea about the former apartment, but once again valuable documents go missing and suspicion is contagious.  Sadie's life is also turned upsidedown, but with persistance she solves the mystery of the missing materials both from 1913 and her present day of 1993.  As well as being an engaging mystery, this novel will have appeal to bibliophiles and feminists for the strong bookloving heroines.
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I love it when an novel sends me down a rabbit hole to research more information, so I was pleased when this book led me to learn more about the apartments common in NYC libraries in the 20th century.  I had no idea!  I thought that the resolution of the mystery was a little too coincidental, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it.  I loved the strong female characters and of course the library setting.  Very quick & enjoyable read!
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Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis is a masterfully crafted historical novel which takes place in the New York Public Library, which moves its way from the past to the present, and connects two families and the mystery of disappearing literary manuscripts and artifacts. The plot works effortlessly between two families and their connections. A pivotal aspect shows the reader what women's rights were in the past. The description of the rooms in the library and the many important artifacts contained within are fascinating. Add romance, heartache, death and more; it keeps you reading to find out where these characters intersect. My only qualm is the title. There is so little said about the lions that one wonders if there was deeper meaning. I would not have purchased it based on the title alone.
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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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