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The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Love the characters, the setting and the story.



1913 - Laura Lyons and her husband Jack and their two children live in a seven room apartment tucked in a corner of the grand New York Public Library. Jack Lyons is the library superintendent and an aspiring novelist. Laura, a graduate of Vassar, wants more out of life than just being a wife and mother. She was recently accepted to the newly established Columbia School of Journalism. Her studies take her all over the city and ignite a desire to write about women”s rights, birth control and suffrage. But when some valuable books go missing from the Library Laura is force to reevaluate her priorities

1993 - Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons. Particularly after she has lands her dream job as the curator of the New York Public Library, Berg collection. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie is curating begin disappearing. Determine to save the exhibit and her career Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the thief. Things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation forces Sadie to face some unwelcome truth about her own family heritage..


The Lions of Fifth Avenue is an intriguing and poignant read. I savored every page. The New York Public library setting is absolutely delightful. Who wouldn’t want to live in a famous library! But can you imagine rare library books being stolen? It hurts my heart, but I know it’s happens. There was even a recent news story of this very same topic where extremely rare books and documents, like the Christopher Columbus letters were stolen and replaced with forgeries from the most prestigious national libraries in the world. Anyone who loves and values books and libraries will enjoy this creative historical fiction/mystery novel.

The writing is smart, enjoyable and bounding with interesting architectural details. One of my favorite parts was how Laura would allow her children, Harry and Pearl to have a ten minute “stomp” every evening after the library was closed. The three of them would leap about the hallways dancing and singing. Harry would run laps and Pearl might practice her yodeling. What fun!

Laura and Sadie are both delightfully strong-willed and smart women characters Laura was way ahead of her time in 1913, by wanting to work outside the home. It was this work that opened her eyes to a whole other world and lifestyle. When books were stolen from Sadie’s upcoming exhibit in 1993, she was certainly no shrinking violet. She was able to uncover the truth about the thief and at the same time discover the truth about her family’s history with the library.

Author Fiona Davis had me with her initial description of the immense lions that stand guard over the entrance. I even have pictures of the lions from a recent trip to NYC. She is is the nationally bestselling author of five novels, including The Dollhouse (2016), The Address (2017), and the Chelsea Girls (2019). She lives in New York City and is a graduate of the College of William & Mary in Virginia and the Columbia Journalism School.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher Dutton Books

Published August 4, 2020

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