Thanks to NetGalley and Dutton Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: August 4th, 2020
Synopsis: In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis’s latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roil 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 the 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.
The Lions of Fifth Avenue is undoubtedly going to be one of my favorite novels of 2020, thanks to the exceptional storytelling of Fiona Davis. Starting with every library lover’s dream setting of the New York Public Library, and including the time period’s socioeconomic disparities and stirrings of the women’s rights movement, Davis skillfully blends the historical with two fascinating mysteries that are connected, albeit decades apart. More often than not, when reading a book with two timelines, I find myself preferring one over the other, but that wasn’t the case here. I loved both Laura and her granddaughter Sadie, and was equally invested in both of their stories. I don’t want to give too many details away, so let me just say this book is a sumptuous feast for any reader who loves books, libraries, history, wonderful characters, and fascinating mysteries!