How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in New York City that you enjoyed? Share in the comments!
I read our main title: The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis. This is a dual timeline book, but both timelines take place in the same physical place, the New York Public Library. I was excited when I realized this was the main book for this month! I read this book for the first time when it was initally published in August 2020, but reread it to refresh myself for this challenge. This is one of my favorite books set in New York City, as well as one of my favorites set in a library. The dual mysteries, plus all the bucking against tradition, hooked me. Let’s get into it!
1913, New York: Laura Lyons and her family live in an apartment within the New York Public Library. Cool, right?! Laura’s husband is the superintendent for the library, which allows her family to live in this stately building. Laura should be happy with her lot in life, but she wants more. Laura applies to Columbia Journalism School, showcasing her headstrong and passionate personality by persuing stories all over the city. On one of her adventures in Greenwich Village, she discovers the Heterodoxy Club. This radical group is an all-female safe space where women can freely discuss their opinions on any subject without fear of judgment or retribution. These meetings change Laura’s opinions on a lot of things, one being the traditional role she plays in her family. A crisis back home sends Laura reeling. Valuable books have been reported stolen at the library, her husband’s credibility is in ruins, and her family is starting to fall apart. She has to decide where her loyalities lie before it’s too late.
Flash forward 80 years to 1993, New York: Sadie Donovan is at a loss. Her grandmother is the famous essayist Laura Lyons, something Sadie is both proud of, but also something she struggles with every day. After Sadie gets her dream job as a curator at the New York Public Library, her joy is quickly squashed. Rare books, manuscripts, and notes are disappearing from the Berg Collection, framing Sadie as the library’s main suspect. Determined to save both her career and reputation, Sadie finds a private security expert who agrees to help her find the real culprit. Sadie expects to find the thief and her missing items, but is surprised when secrets from her own family’s past pop up demanding attention.
While I enjoyed this book, I admit that at points the two characters in two different timelines confused me. I would have loved separate books – one from Laura’s point of view and one from Sadie’s point of view. The themes of female empowerment, fighting against the oppression of women’s rights, and free-thinking women in the early 20th century pulled me in and kept me wanting to read more though. The Lions of Fifth Avenue was intriguing with its tales of sacrifice and secrets over generations. A solid four-star read for me!
In October, we’re headed to Iceland!