The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Historical, Recent-Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, LGBTQ, Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

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.

There’s a whole ‘lotta mystery goin’ on.

This is my second book by Fiona Davis and it’s an interesting book. The writing is good and the characters interesting. The premise is fascinating, the family lives in the library. I’ve never heard of that, which doesn’t mean it’s never been done – just that I’d never heard of that, and is quite honestly my dream place to live. I love books and getting to live with them? Yes, please.

The thing with this book is that there are two timelines. I like how the author intertwined them. There were twists I didn’t see coming and I did like it. Honestly, the plot was fascinating, but it left some areas to be desired.

I liked Laura, but she seemed too consumed with her desires and dreams. Now that’s not a bad thing, in that she wanted something that was hers. In 1913, that was a lot to ask. So I liked that she wanted a chance at her dreams. What I wasn’t a fan of was how she acted so put upon because she chose to pursue an education, while not really keeping an eye on her children. Jack, her husband, was just as guilty. He was so consumed with his book that he ignored the family, too. I wasn’t a fan of how these two characters came across flat. They were in a rough situation, so I could identify with the idea they had too much on their plates.

I wanted to like Sadie, but my goodness this gal seemed to hand-wring an awful lot. Yes, she wanted to figure out what was happening to the books and pieces coming up missing, but there were times when I’d hoped she’d be stronger. She came across kind of flat, as well, and I got that she was a divorcee, but it almost consumed her in the way Laura’s degree and subsequent dealings with the early pieces of women’s liberation did for her. This might not be a deterrent to some readers in the way it did me, so by all means. Do read this book.

Plus, there’s the mystery of who is taking the prized collection books. It took me a long time to figure out the mystery and I was happy to go along in the journey. It’s worth the ride.

That said, this was an interesting book and those wanting to read about living in the library will be happy. The descriptions of the library, the innerworkings and discussions on the tomes kept there are fascinating. If you’re looking for a book that takes place at the library, then this might be the one for you.

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