Sunday, August 2, 2020

Review: The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

The Lions of Fifth Avenue
In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis's latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

It's 1913, and on the surface, Laura Lyons couldn't ask for more out of life—her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library, allowing their family to live in an apartment within the grand building, and they are blessed with two children. But headstrong, passionate Laura wants more, and when she takes a leap of faith and applies to the Columbia Journalism School, her world is cracked wide open. As her studies take her all over the city, she finds herself drawn to Greenwich Village's new bohemia, where she discovers the Heterodoxy Club—a radical, all-female group in which women are encouraged to loudly share their opinions on suffrage, birth control, and women's rights. Soon, Laura finds herself questioning her traditional role as wife and mother. But when valuable books are stolen back at the library, threatening the home and institution she loves, she's forced to confront her shifting priorities head on . . . and may just lose everything in the process.

Eighty years later, in 1993, Sadie Donovan struggles with the legacy of her grandmother, the famous essayist Laura Lyons, especially after she's wrangled her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library. But the job quickly becomes a nightmare when rare manuscripts, notes, and books for the exhibit Sadie's running begin disappearing from the library's famous Berg Collection. Determined to save both the exhibit and her career, the typically risk-adverse Sadie teams up with a private security expert to uncover the culprit. However, things unexpectedly become personal when the investigation leads Sadie to some unwelcome truths about her own family heritage—truths that shed new light on the biggest tragedy in the library's history.

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published August 4th, 2020
by Dutton
4/5 stars

The setting of The Lions of Fifth Avenue is the iconic New York City Library. A book about books taking place in a library, talk about an invitation for intrigue. Fiona Davis is not a new author for me, I have read all her previous books, each with a unique setting, dual time periods and interesting characters, bringing history to life with the different eras.

Beginning in 1913, its a different world for women as they face criticism and hostility for wanting to take control of their lives, whether from strangers or family. To depart from the traditional roles that have been around for centuries, to think for themselves and have a say in what they want to do.  Davis portrayed that nicely with Laura Lyons as her family lives in an apartment within the NYC library. 

In 1993 Lyons grand daughter, Sadie, is going through her own trials one of which is the disappearances of valuable books from the same library.  A coincidence?

There is a lot going on in this book, from the struggle for identity, acceptance, heartache and mystery that spans centuries. I enjoyed reading about the library, its procedures, rules and the stacks. Both in the past and current settling.  While I found the story slowed down for a bit it did pick up for the last past that made up for it. 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue releases tomorrow.  My digital copy was provided by the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

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