Cover Image: The Lions of Fifth Avenue

The Lions of Fifth Avenue

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and Dutton Books for a digital copy of The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis.

This was my first book by Davis, and unfortunately her passive style of writing is not for me. I ended up not finishing this book, however, I was intrigued by the subject matter but I felt like I was a distant bystander.
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Fans of historical fiction, books, libraries and strong-women will enjoy this story. There are LGBT threads which felt genuine and highlighted the struggles for women in the 1900s and will feel relevant even today.  

Full review will post at Caffeinated Reviewer. It will be uplifted across social media.  A review will cross-post to Goodreads and Amazon.
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NetGalley ARC | I just love historical fiction and books that take place in libraries.  Head to the NYPL in both the past and present to solve the case of the missing rare books.

I appreciated the feminist edge, LGBTQ+ love story, and just overall adoration and appreciation for literature.  With light suspense, this is the perfect summer read.

You can see my full review along with other August 2020 book releases on The Uncorked Librarian here:

Thank you so much to the author and publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I am learning quickly that I love a story told from dual timelines, and this one is done well. The Lions of Fifth Avenue is told from the perspective of two women and their tie to the New York Public Library. In 1913, Laura Lyons lives in the library with her family while her husband is the library superintendent. In 1993, Sadie Donovan works as a curator in the library. 
This story is beautiful, not only in the way the library comes to life, but in the  story of the importance and evolution of literature. This story also has strong female leads, a twisting mystery, and the importance of second chances in love and with family. 
I would definitely recommend this book!
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Historical Fiction about a library just about tops the list for me. But when you get more specific and the library is one of the world’s best, “The New York Public Library,” you have my attention.

 Fiona Davis said it best, “Early into my research on the building, I discovered that when the library was built, the 
 architects included s seven-room apartment, deep inside, where the superintendent and his family lived for 
 thirty years. He and his wife raised their three children there, and once I learned that I knew it would make the 
 perfect setting for The Lions of Fifth Avenue. I invented a fictional family – the Lyons – and decided to tell the 
 story from the wife’s point of view in 1913, as well as her granddaughter’s in 1993.” 

I was already going to read this book, but when I read the above paragraph, I was sold. 

Let us discuss the ‘elephant in the room,’ uhm, pardon me; I mean the ‘Lions on the steps’ first. They are icons for this beautiful building and were first named for two of the benefactors, “Leo Astor” for John Jacob Astor, and “Leo Lenox” for James Lenox. They were later changed by NY City Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia, during the Great Depression, as Patience and Fortitude, to reflect the virtues needed during that era. The names stuck. I can go on and on with facts about this marvelous marble masterpiece, but you will discover all the fun facts within the book. (I always want more.) 

The Lyons family are living in the private, seven-room apartment snuggled within the library because Jack Lyons, husband and father, is the Library’s Superintendent. His wife, Laura, and two children, Harry, eleven years-old, and Pearl, seven years-old, live with him. Naturally, the kids adore living in the library, especially at night when they feel it is their private playground. Laura has to quickly set some rules where they visit one room a night accompanied by her. Her husband Jack is usually too busy with paperwork involving the entire library’s staff and budget. He is also working on writing his own book so that leaves all family duties to Laura. Even though it is 1913, women have become restless with discovering and nurturing their own intellects. Laura really wants to attend Journalism school but does not know how she can manage her household and the finances let alone talk to Jack about the subject.

During this time, their son, Harry begins to act out and gets involved with some ‘rough characters’ at his school. Unbeknownst to his parents, Harry stops going to school and starts swiping some books from the library. Laura does start going to Journalism school and gets involved in a women’s intellectual organization. Chaos ensues.

Advance eighty years to 1993 where we find Sadie, unaware she is Laura Lyons granddaughter, working at the same library as a curator and researcher. Sadie is quite intelligent but awkward in some of the social graces. She was married before to Phillip, who was not nice to her. Sadie’s mother Pearl is in ill health and living with her brother, Lonnie, all in Manhattan. Pearl never told her two children much about her parents, Jack and Laura Lyons, and her brother Harry. She has good reasons for this, but they were her personal decisions. Lonnie and his wife have an adorable young daughter that they have hired a babysitter for, Robin, since they are both professionals with demanding jobs. Robin might not be as nice as she seems. 

Meanwhile, back at the library books are starting to ‘go missing.’ Everyone is suspecting everyone else; especially Sadie and her co-worker who have access to rare books and valuable collections. Again, chaos ensues.

So much happens within each time period I am merely glossing over basic story points to pique your interest. If you thought I was spilling the whole story, spoilers and all, you would be oh so wrong. I jest and am just joshing. ‘Har har!’ 

Both time periods tie together in amazing ways by our super sleuth, Sadie. Get ready for a bumpy ride through the decades plus new light on library thievery. I never realized, but it does make sense. All those valuable but precious rare books!

There was an article in mid-June from Pittsburgh, PA. concerning two men who stole over $8.1 million worth of rare books and artifacts from the Carnegie Library over twenty-five years. One man was a librarian and the other a bookshop owner. They were just caught last year, 2019. It is a serious business, unfortunately.

In summary, this might sound like an epic, but it moves quickly, and you can easily keep up with the characters. I would read any Historical Fiction book Fiona Davis writes; you can easily see she is passionate about her work. Highly recommend. 

Thank you Netgalley, Penguin Random House, and Fiona Davis
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A great love story to the New York Public Library world famous for both its architecture and collections of all things related to books and authors.   The story involves secrets, familial relationships, love, and theft.  A dual timeline story of a grandmother and granddaughter who are both grappling with mysteries of rare and valuable books stolen from the library while they are living or working there, respectively.  Their stories take place about 80 years apart and are beautifully intertwined to a lovely conclusion.  The best part of the book takes place when the grandmother and her family are living in the apartment housed within the library.  Facts about the library’s design, rare books, and articles in the library’s collections are scattered throughout the story making it a more enjoyable read for history buffs and bibliophiles alike.
Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton (an imprint of Penguin Random House) for the ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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Fiona Davis, queen of NYC historical fiction, has done it again with this thrilling, mysterious and wonderful novel about a fictional family living in the New York Public Library’s real superintendent apartment hidden in the main branch. In 1913, Laura Lyons, her husband Jack and 2 children move into the library for Jack’s new job. Laura is desperate to build her own career and help make money for the family, starts attending Columbia Journalism School and begins to mix and mingle with the women of the time fighting for woman’s rights. But, things start to get tricky for the family when priceless books start to go missing from the library. 80 years later in 1993, Laura’s granddaughter works as a archivist/librarian at the library when priceless books start to go missing for her as well. Are the book thefts somehow connected to her family history??? What a great book this was!! I loved reading about the 1910s and I had such a fun time reading the two women’s stories and how they did or didn’t connect. 5 stars!
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What more can an avid reader ask for than a book about books and taking place at a library?! I was very captivated by both timelines in this historical fiction. The suspense of who the book thieves were kept me coming back again and again. I loved the vivid language of the library! Even though I haven't been there myself, I can almost see if clearly in my mind's eye. The characters were wonderful and the writing was engaging.
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This novel is an intriguing historical mystery revolving around the New York Public Library. We follow the Lyons family who lives in the superintendent's apartment inside the library in 1914, and Sadie, who is the curator of a special collection at the library in the early 90s. The storylines of these characters intersect in several interesting ways -- especially those revolving around the theft of priceless library books.

Usually with books with multiple perspectives, I find myself drawn to one character over another, and end up rushing through the parts with the unloved character. The great thing about this book is that both characters are well done, and I didn't find myself as the reader wanting to get back to the other storyline. Fiona Davis made both women have their own issues, flaws, hopes, and dreams.

Parts of the mystery were predictable, but there were elements that were surprising as well.
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A well researched and interesting novel, set in the magnificent New 
York Public Library. The story spans two different eras, with a common theme, the theft of rare books and manuscripts. Laura Lyons lives with her husband Jack, the superintendent of the  library, and their two young children, Pearl and Henry, in the beautiful apartment, contained in a wing of the  grand old building. Laura has aspirations of becoming a reporter and attending the Columbia School of Journalism, a feat unheard of by woman in the early 20th Century. But the threat to their plans and security are threatened, when Jack comes under suspicion of the thefts.
80 years later, Sadie Donovan, a curator in the library, deals with thefts, as history seems to repeat itself, and a link between her and Laura will complicate the she struggles to find out the truth of what happened to Laura and Jack, she must try to clear her own name.
This mystery had me trying in vein to sort now the connections and similarities of the  thefts, while exploring the workings of a treasured NY landmark.
Fiona Davis is a wonderful storyteller, and her characters are well developed and interesting as well! My thanks to #PenguinPublishing and #NetGalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own. I loved this book!
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This is a tough review for me. The writing and history and dual timelines are interesting, especially how it is all tied together. I loved how it all took place in the library. I enjoyed the mystery and the exploration of early feminism. However, the conclusions about feminism was problematic for me, a real let down. I won't say more so as not to spoil it.
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This was an amazing tale mainly set in the New York Public Library. 

It begins in 1913 with a family who actually live in the library. The husband Jack Lyons is employed there and they have 7 rooms on an upper floor. Jack is writing a book which he hopes will cement the family's financial future. He and Laura have two children, Harry and Pearl. Laura loves living in he library, but Jack's work in the library and on his book take so much time that she feels a bit lost. Laura wants to become a journalist and also write. She goes to journalism school (one of the few women of that time who do) and eventually becomes a published author on her own.

Interspersed into Laura's story is the life of Sadie Donovan who is a curator of the Berg Collection in the library. She is fascinated with Laura Lyons's works. She wants to learn more about the woman who worked for woman's suffrage and equal employment. 

Both in Laura's life and Sadie's life, precious items were stole from the library. Security was such that no one knew how the thefts were accomplished. Sadie began to think that there was a connection between the thefts almost 80 years apart.

There are plenty of surprises in the telling of this tale. The characters are marvelously described and fleshed out during the course of a few chapters. All are believable. The format, going back and forth between the two time periods is sometimes a little disconcerting, but all in all, I can't imagine any better way to tell these stories.

The only reason I give it four stars is because I feel that the author put into the story a gratuitous storyline of homosexuality. The novel was perfect without it. I have come to believe that many authors feel they have to add a bit of this just to sell books or be boycotted but the LGBT groups. Not so. This book would stand alone with out the references.
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I am always a fan of books about libraries.  The Lions of Fifth Avenue was so interesting because I had no idea that there was an apartment in the New York Public Library.  I loved that there was a story (a mystery even!) around the library.  It was told from 2 different generational points of view which put in an extra layer of interest.  It was satisfying at the end of the story to see how the 2 sides/stories intertwined and effected each other.  I will recommend this book to historical fiction patrons.
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The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
It’s 1913 and Laura Lyons is feeling restless. She and her family are living in apartments within the brand new New York Public Library, and Laura spends her days tending to her children and her husband. She is thrilled when she learns of her acceptance to Columbia’s journalism program and sets her mind to go, money be dammed. It’s around that time when rare, valuable books start to disappear from the library, sending suspicion her family’s way. In 1993, Laura’s granddaughter Sadie is happy enough in her job at the New York Public Library. No one knows of her connection to Laura Lyons, who later in life became a famous essayist. Sadie’s own mother, Laura’s daughter, refuses to speak of their time living in the library. When rare books again start to disappear from the library, Sadie is determined to uncover the truth about the thefts and the possible connection to her family.
The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a decent story and a middle-of-the-road read for me. I found some of the plot points to be very interesting, and I enjoyed the duel timelines of Laura and Sadie. I though the author did a great job tying everything together! It took me a little while to make my way through this one because the beginning is quite slow. I found the last half of the book to be much more engaging, and once I hit the halfway point I flew through the rest! It is a solid, yet slightly predictable mystery. The subplot of Laura writing about the Hererodoxy Club was really interesting, and I could have done with a whole book about that subject alone! Book nerds like myself will love the library setting, and I love any book set in pre-war New York City. Thank you @duttonbooks and @netgalley for my advanced reader’s copy! The Lions of Fifth Avenue is out on 8/4 🦁
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NYPL, early-20th-century, late-20th-century, journalist, theft, women, mystery

I came to the home of Patience and Fortitude and stayed for the excellent storytelling. I had been hoping for a story about a family who had lived in the hidden apartment in the library and also one about the intrabuilding book retrieval system that has been in place for so very many years and here is a book with all of that and more. This one takes in the beginnings of the rights of women movement which later devolved into women's suffrage, family stresses and secrets, as well as potential scandals about missing books. I loved it and look forward to an audio version that I can read no matter what else I am doing (even though I prefer the scent of books).
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Dutton and Plume via NetGalley. Thank you!
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Author Fiona Davis has written another dynamic, layered, intricate historical fiction mystery centered around an iconic building.  THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE even has a nice twist in the title because our leading family has the surname Lyon. I loved this book and raced through it, devouring every detail and nuance.  Truth be told, I have never been inside the famous New York Public Library, but I am a profound lover of libraries.  Davis offers up her, now regular, two time-frames, two protagonists, each moving forward towards their inevitable conclusion.  She handles the pacing and the careful release of details with considerable skill.  There was no chance I would step away from this book.  I was just too curious about how the two stories would end.  You’ll have to read it yourself to learn the details, I won’t share more. It is an excellent book.  I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
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With thanks to NetGalley for an early copy in return for an honest review.

In the last year or so I've become increasingly fascinated with the New York City Public Library and so I appreciated that the library almost became its own character throughout the book. I took a bit of time to get in to the story but thoroughly enjoyed the second half, particularly the twists that I did not see coming. This was my first Fiona Davis book and I will definitely be researching her backlist.
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I love books by Fiona Davis, so I was really surprised when I struggled with the first third of this book. The tone was so melancholy, and it's not fun to read something depressing right now. However, it started to get so much better and turned out to be really interested. I liked the setting of the New York Public Library, and both Laura and Sadie were interesting characters.
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Fiona Davis is a master at setting scenes and describing locations in such a way that you feel that you have been there. The grand New York Public Library itself seems to become a character in the tale of the Lyons family
and missing antique books of historical value decades apart. The Lions of Fifth Avenue kept me drawn in throughout and Fiona Davis is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. Thank you to NetGalley for this advance read copy.
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I absolutely loved everything about this book! Both of the storylines set in different times drew me in so well that I never cared when it switched. Usually I favor one over the other but the author has done an amazing job! The descriptions, the characters, the families, the relationships, it all made me want to keep reading.
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