I have raved about Fiona Davis before as one of my favorite authors and I knew that this novel, one of her latest, was going to be outstanding. As I type this, I realize that I haven't reviewed the last few books of Davis' that I read but I'm changing that now with The Lions of Fifth Avenue.

This book was released last summer but I recently finished reading it and I once again am kicking myself for waiting so long. 

Fiona Davis writes what I call historical fiction because while the story she is telling is mostly fiction, the time and place the story is being told are very real. She takes real-life events and places and puts a fictional spin on them, all of which take place in New York.

This time around, Davis is taking us to the New York Public Library which is probably the best setting for a book ever. I read the book within a few days and it was definitely one of my favorites.

Publisher's Summary

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 is 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. And 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-averse 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.

My Thoughts

Going into this book, I knew I was going to really enjoy it because it is centered around the library and books. I will read any book about books, writers, libraries... it's so meta and it makes me so happy. I was not disappointed in the least bit and my expectations were surely met with "Lions of Fifth Avenue".

The writing in this novel was very Davis; she has a very specific way of wording things and telling a cohesive story across many decades and time periods. It felt like coming home, it felt like comfort to read her words that feel familiar. I think that's really special about reading the same author over and over again.

The entire premise of the novel was about a book thief that spanned nearly a century and how one family was at the center. It was very interesting and very enticing and it did keep me on my toes. I desperately wanted to know how everything was connected and who was the thief. 

One of Davis' classic 'moves' is a bit of a mysterious reveal at the end of the novel that links the past and present. That was really woven throughout the entire story with Laura Lyons being the grandmother of our protagonist, but the true revelation came at the end and it was beautiful and perfect. I couldn't get over it! 

Another thing I enjoyed about the novel is that the 'present' part of the book was set in the 1990s so it was a nice mix of the 'present' but still set in the past so it was the best of both worlds and added something a little extra special

As much as I loved this book, I did think it was slightly slower than previous novels and I wasn't crazy about Sadie, our present main character. She felt very pitiful and like she wanted everyone to feel bad for her. However, Laura Lyons was super interesting and I loved reading her POV in 1913. 

It was also very interesting to see feminism in the early 1900s take form and how things were different, but also similar. It was one of my favorite parts of the book.

All in all, I think if you love books and historical fiction you will enjoy "The Lions of Fifth Avenue." If you have liked Fiona Davis' books in the past, you will also love this. This is also a book I would read again because I feel like I could learn more a second time.


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