The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis. Dutton, 2020. 978-1524744618. $27.
As Laura Lyons entered the New York Public Library (NYPL), she passed a widowed woman begging for money and food and felt a small stab of fear somewhere deep inside. In comparison to the poor woman, Laura’s life in 1913 seemed perfect. Happily married to Jack with two children, a boy and a girl, her home was in one of New York’s most celebrated buildings, seven rooms in the New York Public Library. Her home was a perk of her husband’s position as superintendent of the building, along with a steady income. In addition to working, Jack was working on a manuscript that he hoped to publish bringing him step closer to his dream of becoming a writer. Even with her good fortune, for some reason, Laura felt unsatisfied and desired to fulfill a dream of her own, which was a degree from Columbia Journalism School and a career of her own. Offered fluff assignments, Laura looks for more challenging ways to approach her writing assignments, which sends her into unfamiliar parts of the city. Laura becomes intrigued by Greenwich Village’s new bohemia and the Heterodoxy Club, a radical, feminist group, leading her to question her traditional role as wife and mother. Suddenly, her life is upended when valuable books begin to disappear from the stacks of the New York Public Library. Who is behind the thefts? Is her premonition of fear when she saw the beggar about to come true? Is she about to lose everything she considers dear in her life?
Jumping forward to 1993. Eighty years later, Sadie Donovan has just landed her dream job as a curator in the Special Collections at the New York Public Library. But Sadie is harboring a secret, she is the granddaughter of Laura Lyons, the famous essayist. When Sadie is temporarily offered the position to lead the upcoming exhibit of items from the library’s famous Berg Collection, her family heritage begins to haunt her. Just as when her grandparents called the library home, rare manuscripts, notes, and books begin to disappear from the collection. Is this déjà vu for Sadie and her family all over again? Who is stealing these rare items? Will Sadie lose everything and be blamed for the thefts? To solve the mystery, Sadie must step out of her comfort zone and team up with a private security expert to uncover who is behind these thefts. In doing so, she must also undertake the uncomfortable task of learning more about her family history and her famous grandmother.
Selected as a Good Morning America Book Club Pick and a New York Times bestseller, Davis provides readers a historical novel filled with mystery and romance. I could not put the book down until its exciting conclusion. For more information on the book and Davis, check out the podcast on YouTube with Zibby Owens, as the author discusses her novel, https://youtu.be/jr6oCL2eGwI. For more information on Davis and her other novels, go to her website, https://www.fionadavisbooks.com/