Cover Image: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I love Fiona Davis’ concept of writing about historic buildings in NYC and building fictional stories around them and their original time periods.  Learning the backstory of the opening of the famous NYC Public Library and getting a glimpse into the current day historical preservation of literary artifacts was fascinating to this book nerd.
   I do wish that we had been able to get to know the main character, Sadie, a bit more instead just Laura.  Sadie was a good character that could have been great if only she was given more personality!  I did love the mystery but felt the end was a bit rushed, but it was all explained and tidied up at the end, if you like that sort of thing.  
   I did like this story, but I did not love it as I just never really LOVED any of the characters. The setting and period were fascinating and are what kept me reading.
Was this review helpful?
I think I am the only person in the world who just couldn't get into this book.  I have tried and tried but I couldn't stay forcus.    I will try again at a later time and hopefully i will enjoy this more.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoy dual timeline stories, and I'd heard so much about this book that I was excited to check it out. It takes place in 1913 (Laura) and 1993 (Sadie). There's a mystery about stolen books that connects the women. The pace was a bit slower than expected, but it did pick up in the latter half of the book. I loved the fact that it took place in the New York Public Library (what booklover wouldn't enjoy that?!). Sadly, the plot lines weren't equally developed. There was a subplot that I wasn't expecting based on the description, and I felt that it didn't really add anything to the story and could've easily been removed.

I've never read anything by this author, but I may check out future books.
Was this review helpful?
Loved this excellent history-mystery of an NYC architectural icon. Then cover invites you in, the characters give the tour, and I am richer for having read this captivating account of a building and it's people. The architectural detail, city walking tour and the rare book treasures all expanded my horizons! Well done Fiona Davis.
Was this review helpful?
As soon as I saw the cover of this book and read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read it.  This historical fiction/mystery takes place in two timelines, 1913 and 1993.  The common thread between them is the NYPL.  In 1913, Laura Lyons lives inside the library, in an apartment there with her husband and two children.  Her husband is the superintendent of the library.  Laura dreams of being a journalist and when she gets accepted to the Columbia School of Journalism, Laura’s entire world changes.  She meets a group of progressive women who talk about suffrage, politics, women’s rights—radical issues in 1913.  In 1993, Sadie Donovan is a curator at the NYPL and these two women share a connection that is deeper than their love of books.
What I loved:  The dual timelines blended together seamlessly.  The setting was phenomenal and that alone made it worth reading.  I learned so much about the NYPL, past and present.  The lore of the library and the knowledge about rare books, manuscripts and diaries was woven into the story so it didn’t feel like a boring history lesson.  The theft of rare books spanned both timelines and wove together to create a mystery that kept me engaged.  Laura is a strong, determined, passionate woman and I enjoyed reading about her struggles even though I found Laura’s story to be tragic in the back half of the book. I loved the diversity of the characters as well.
What didn’t work for me:  The connection between Sadie and a detective who is hired to investigate the theft from the library felt forced.  The reveal of the 1993 was just okay.  It felt like a bit of a letdown.
Read it?  Yes! If you love historical fiction, NYC, libraries, diverse characters, and a dual timeline mystery, you need to read this one. 😊 Thank you Dutton and NetGalley for my copy!
Was this review helpful?
This is my first book from Fiona Davis and it will not be my last. I fell in love with this story within the first few chapters. It was beautifully written and I loved the characters! The fact that it took place in New York, a city that I love, in the fabulous public library was an added bonus! 

It was told in dual time lines, between 1913 and 1993. Laura Lyons lives in the 1913 time line with her family in an apartment in the library where her husband works. She longs for more and goes to school to become a journalist. Soon after, a string of thefts in the library cause her family life to begin to unravel and Laura must make decisions about the career she wants and the family she has. In 1993 Sadie also works for the library and is once again, dealing with mysterious thefts of extremely rare and important books. She must deal with the thefts while also grappling with her family history, being related to the well known Laura Lyons. 

This book focused on family, feminism, women's rights and of course, a deep love of books. I loved it from start to finish!
Was this review helpful?
Fiona Davis has a gift. This latest gem gives readers two strong willed women whose lives each revolve around the New York City Public Library. One of the things that Davis does best is intertwine historical elements seamlessly into the story. She creates a world of both fiction and fact in such a way that it is hard to discern which is which. The main characters Laura and Sadie draw the reader into their respective worlds and provide a glimpse of the everyday challenges of being an individual. Each are strong, persistent, dedicated souls that strive for success. This story has love, intrigue, mystery, deceit, and forgiveness. A remarkable book.
Was this review helpful?
There are two bad things about getting a new Fiona Davis book:  1) I’m probably gonna be up all night ‘cause I can’t put it down and 2) I’m going to have at least a year for her next book.

I have been a big fan of Fiona’s work ever since I read her novel, “The Masterpiece.” I’ve read her other works (and loved them all), except “The Address.”  I was saving that to take on an Alaskan Cruise (which the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted). 

Like all her novels, at the core of each is a specific New York City building. In “The Masterpiece,” it is Grand Central Station; in “The Chelsea Girls, it is the Chelsea Hotel, in “The Dollhouse,” it is the Barbizon Hotel for Women, and in “The Address,” it is the Dakota Apartment Building.  In this outing, Fiona concentrates on the newly completed New York Public Library (NYPL). Fiona does a fabulous job of providing readers with just the right amount of architectural detail to make readers feel as if they are experie4ncing it first hand; it never gets boring with too many facts.

Dueling timelines are also one of Fiona’s trademarks. I adore dueling timelines. In this novel, the period is 1913-14 and 1993. At the heart of this novel is also my favorite topic: books!  In 1913, Jack Lyons, who was the superintendent, and his family lived in a seven-room apartment that was housed inside NYPL. That bit fascinates the heck out of me; I wonder what has happened to that space. In the book, in 1993, it is storage.

Jack lives in the apartment with his wife, Laura, and their two children. Laura feels trapped in her marriage, in a life of taking care of her husband, her children and her house. She wants more out of life. Once she is accepted into the Columbia School of Journalism, Laura gets to lead a new exciting life…one where she hardly recognizes herself. Then Jack become the suspect in the theft of several important literary titles, and Laura ultimately becomes on the leading essayist of the 20th century.

In 1993, Sadie has been named the curator of an upcoming exhibit at NYPL. Important literary documents have disappeared. Vanished. Sadie becomes the primary suspect. She, like Jack, become the primary suspect.

Each woman, works within her time period to determine what happened to the valuable books and documents…and who is to blame.  I had the mystery of 1993 figured out near the end, before it could be revealed.  The 1913-14 storyline was a surprise.

 I adored “The Lions of Fifth Avenue,”  which receives 6 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book! It contained so many things that I love ~ NYC, libraries, books, mysteries, and an exploration of the intricacies of life, love, and relationships. The dual timelines were equally fascinating to me, and there were so many twists and turns that I would never have expected when I began reading. It was such an interesting journey to go on, and while the characters faced some challenging times, the ending was ultimately satisfying for me.
Was this review helpful?
What book lover would not love a book with the setting of the iconic 42nd Street New York Public Library? And then to discover that at one time there was an apartment for the family of the manager of the library? It does not stop there. Along with getting to peak in so many rooms and in the book storage rooms under Bryant Park, there’s a mystery of stolen books that has a connection between 1913 and 1993.The characters of Laura Lyons who struggled with wanting a career in journalism and her granddaughter, Sadie, who is living the live she wants as a librarian in the library, have more in common than one would expect.  As usual, Davis spins a captivating tale set in New York City.
Was this review helpful?
First line: She had to tell Jack.

Summary: Laura Lyons and her family had recently moved into the superintendent’s apartment in the New York City Public Library. It seemed like a dream come true to be surrounded by so much history and knowledge. But even with everything seeming so perfect she knows something is missing. She takes a chance and applies to Columbia Journalism School. When she is accepted she doesn’t realize how much her life will now change.

Eighty years later, Sadie, Laura’s granddaughter is working in the same library. She has been preparing an exhibit when books, very valuable books, begin to disappear. As she helps search for them she worries that the blame may be put on her because of her families past. It seems that the past is repeating itself.

My Thoughts: I am so happy that Davis went back to her old style of writing. I love her stories that have intertwining stories from different time periods. She does them so well. I was really disappointed in the Chelsea Girls when she diverged from this format. It did not have the same magic as her other books have had.

The author does a wonderful job of bringing the landmarks she writes about to life. They almost become a character in the story as well. These buildings have so much history. I would love to one day be able to visit them. And the fact that there are all these secrets or unknown parts of each building are fascinating. Who knew that there were apartments in the New York library? I for sure didn’t. It would be a dream to live in such an iconic location.

I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a gentle read with a little mystery thrown in. The history and story are easy to get lost in.

FYI: Perfect for fans of Rhys Bowen and Beatriz Williams.
Was this review helpful?
TLOFA is a dual timeline novel largely set at the New York Public Library.  We move between Laura & Jack Lyons in 1913-1918 and Sadie in 1993, who happens to be their granddaughter.  Jack was the superintendent of the library when several rare/valuable books went missing.  Present day, Sadie works as a librarian at the NYPL when additional books go missing.  Sadie feels like there is a connection and sets off to find out more about her family’s own history with the library and book thefts.

I really enjoyed the setting of the NYPL.  I loved learning about the architecture and history of the building itself and it quickly went on my bucket list of places to visit.  I enjoyed the dual POV/timeline.  I also really enjoyed the coverage of the start of the women’s movement in the 1910s.  I loved reading about the groups that got together to discuss issues and share ideas at the time.  The only downside for me was that the pace of the book was slow for me.
Was this review helpful?
This is my first book by Fiona Davis and it won't be my last. 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a historical fiction novel set in New York City centered around the New York City library. 

It has dual timelines; one in 1913 about Laura Lyons whose husband gets a job as the superintendent at the new library. Her and their family move into an apartment in the library. (How freaking cool.) The second takes place in 1993 when Laura Lyons granddaughter, Sadie Donovan, works as a curator in the library. 

The storyline weaves between the two seamlessly. Normally I find one more entertaining, but both kept my interest equally. I absolutely loved the atmosphere that Davis created around the library. 

If you're a historical fiction fan and want something not set around WWII, definitely pick this one up.
Was this review helpful?
This story is just beautiful. Fiona Davis craft historical tales with such detail and accuracy. Her research is impeccable and readers are transported to NYC and the library and the eras in which she writes. Fans are in for a treat and new readers are lucky to have found her.
Was this review helpful?
I have read all of Fiona's books and I love the world she takes us into.  Her books have taught me more about New York City than I have learned anywhere.  I feel like she transforms me right into the middle of story to watch it play out.  This book is like all of her others -- two timelines, two women connected.  I fell in love with Laura who was in the 1913 timeline and I feel like I now understand my great grandmother's world more because of her.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this split timeline story (1913/1993) that explores events in the lives of a grandmother and granddaughter centered around the New York Public Library. I preferred the contemporary story over the historical one (personal preference). The societal expectations and rampant sexism in 1913 was of course aggravating, but the historical story was also more personally painful for Laura than the contemporary one is for Sadie. I loved how all of the pieces came together in the end - a creative solution to the mystery!) (Language, sex, LGBTQ+. TW: Suicide)
Was this review helpful?
I set a personal goal to read one historical fiction book this year.  It’s a genre I enjoy, but for some reason I don’t think about it or gravitate to it like I do with contemporary fiction, romance and thrillers.

A book about NYC, the New York Public Library and by an author who I’ve only heard amazing things about sounded perfect.

What I got from this book was so much more than I expected.

My grandparents, Sicilian immigrants, arrived in NYC less than ten years after Laura Lyons first Heterodoxy meeting.

I grew up thinking of Greenwich Village as an artsy cool place but my Nauna always told me it wasn’t that when she lived there in the 1920s and through this book, I got a glimpse of the poverty she must have witnessed.

My grandparents had 6 children, two of whom died as infants; a third was dropped by the doctor right after birth and had a lot of health issues and died at age 12.  “No one cares about an immigrants’ children,” Dr. Amelia Potter tells Laura Lyons.  I had chills.  

My Nauna was instrumental in raising me to be a wife and mother, but reading about how women were treated and looked upon then, reading about the Heterodoxy Club and women who wanted to educate women on birth control - even in the early 1900s - was fascinating!

There is a lot to this book - mysteries, family connections and the fictional story of a woman who went against the norms of her time to make a huge difference.
Was this review helpful?
Who remembers the librarian ghost in Ghostbusters? You know, the little old lady spirit that turned on the team after they ignored her “shhh” warnings? Before reading Fiona Davis’ newest novel, I could safely say that was ALL I knew about the New York Public Library. I didn’t even know that Andrew Carnegie had given a donation toward the founding of this library, although libraries are part of his legacy. And being able to live in a functioning library? That was new to me, but an idea that I find appealing!

The (fictional) Lyons of Fifth Avenue live a unique life. Jack Lyons moves his family to the heart of New York City to become the first superintendent of the new library, but the transition is difficult for everyone. With both parents obsessed by the written language – appropriate for their living situation – the children are increasingly left to their own devices. The repercussions of a tragic day in 1914 are then passed down to their descendants. 
The descriptions of the library make it seem like a magical place. Imagine being able to roam around it without anyone else being there! I also loved the historical aspects of it. Yes, there really was a Heterodoxy Club, and some of the members Davis includes in the narrative were real life members of it. The earlier storyline takes place at the end of the Gilded Age and, through Laura’s eyes, we get to see the differences between the haves and the have-nots as well as the societal changes that were taking place.

This is only the second of Fiona Davis’ novels I’ve read, and I loved it as much as I loved the first (The Masterpiece). Davis wonderfully weaves together the two timeframes until they come together in a startling fashion. While there is the obvious commonality of the missing books, readers will find that history repeats: what happens to Laura happens to an unknowing Sadie. Both women must learn to let go of the fear that stops them from moving on from being hurt, and they both must deal with misplaced guilt. Did I guess the entirety of the plot? Absolutely not! The ending caught me unaware and brought tears to my eyes. And yes, that’s a good thing. It means I’m looking forward to reading more of Davis’ timeslip fiction, both her earlier novels and whatever she writes next. After all, New York City has so many incredible, and historical, buildings.

Disclaimer: Although I received an uncorrected eBook file of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, the words and opinions below are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to Netgalley and Dutton for the advanced copy!

This was my first book by Fiona Davis and definitely won't be my last! I really enjoyed this. What drew me to this book initially was the New York Public Library setting. I've never read a book set in a library before and that was very intriguing. I loved Fiona Davis' writing. The mixture of history and mystery kept me interested throughout the story. I also loved the strong female characters and the dual timelines! This is definitely worth the read if you are into historical fiction with a mystery component.
Was this review helpful?
Another wonderful book by Fiona Davis! I loved this book - it has love, intrigue, family and most importantly - books. The book revolves around two people - Laura Lyons and her granddaughter Sadie (although separately). I love learning more about Laura and how she became the woman she was known for - quite different from who she was at the start of the book. I also loved learning more about Sadie and seeing her blossom and follow the mystery surrounding her family and the missing books. I loved the twist at the end. I loved all the characters and how well written they all were. Fiona did a brilliant job making the library and characters come to life and I will happily recommend this book to anyone and everyone.
Was this review helpful?