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The Lions of Fifth Avenue

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  46,351 ratings  ·  5,147 reviews
In nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis's latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils 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
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by Dutton Books
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Nancyann The entire ending seemed rushed as it tied up loose strings. I'm not surprised elements of the story were never wrapped up (pun intended). …moreThe entire ending seemed rushed as it tied up loose strings. I'm not surprised elements of the story were never wrapped up (pun intended). (less)
Fiona Davis Hi Joanne - best is to go through Netgalley, although it won’t be listed until Feb or March 2020. Still early days. 😉Thanks a ton for your kind words …moreHi Joanne - best is to go through Netgalley, although it won’t be listed until Feb or March 2020. Still early days. 😉Thanks a ton for your kind words and please let me know what you think. I’m excited to get it out in the world. (less)

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David Putnam
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Lions of Fifth Avenue Aug. 2020
What a great read. Five stars all the way. This is a historical mystery with two strong female protagonists, one from 1914 and one from 1992, alternating stories in two time periods linked by books and a mammoth library. What more could a read want, a story about books. The setting has equal weight the same as a main character with a fascinating library taking center stage. The first story deals with the oppression of women’s rights as they fight pitched battle
Jul 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley
Have I been reading too many books during the Pandemic or is the two person story in different time zones been done to death? I am so weary of it. It's become so common place that it is no longer an interesting twist. The problem is that one story always seems to suffer. This is true here too.

The story starts in 1914 when Laura Lyons is living with her family in the NY Public Library. Her husband is in charge there and a free apartment is part of employment. Can you imagine anything better? Li
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
I love this author!

I received a gifted copy from the publisher.

If you enjoy this genre, Fiona Davis’ books are a must to add to your shelves. She typically features iconic New York places and spaces in her works, and in this novel, it’s the New York Public Library. Doesn’t that make your bibliophile heart swoon?

The two timelines are 1913 and 1993. Two women narrate. Laura in the earlier timeline, and Sadie in the second. Laura is a famous writer, and Sadie is her granddaughter working in the in
Love the premise of both plot lines. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of the execution. There was something about Davis’s writing style that left me cold. The characters, be it their motivations or their personalities or their conversations with one another, all felt stilted and unconvincing. I love the library setting, and the discussion on the importance of books in general and primary sources in particular. But I kept having to suspend my disbelief over the actions and internal struggles of the ...more
Apr 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a dual timeline story beginning with Laura Lyons and her family in 1913 and ending with Sadie Donovan in 1993.

In 1913, the Lyons family lives in an apartment in the New York Public Library, where Jack works as the superintendent. Laura loves her husband and being a mother to Pearl and Harry, yet craves more. She applies to the journalism program at Columbia and quickly enjoys being immersed in a world beyond her home. She attends meetings of the Heterodoxy Club, a g
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book had me in the palm of its hand straight from the title, because I have always loved the lions outside the New York Public Library. (Did you know their names are Patience and Fortitude? Although at the time of the 1913 opening of the library at the center of this book, as the book taught me, they were called Astor and Lenox.)

My hands-down favorite part of this novel was our 1914 heroine, the intrepid aspiring reporter Laura Lyons.
We also spend some time in the grunge era, with Sadie, a
Katie B
4.5 stars

I've always loved how Fiona Davis brings something different to the historical fiction genre as a famous building is usually what she focuses on rather than a person or event. For this book most of the story took place at the New York Public Library and it was a perfect setting. I have read all of the author's books and this one by far is my favorite.

Back in 1913, Laura Lyons is married with two children. Her husband is the superintendent of the New York Public Library and the family li
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Hidden within the grand architecture of the New York Public Library, Laura Lyons lives in an apartment with her husband and their children. In 1913, Laura seems to have an idyllic life, but she yearns for the same passion that her husband has for his novel in progress. Hoping to find her drive in life and help with her family’s finances, Laura applies to the Columbia School of Journalism. The search for stories takes her across the city, where she wants to go beyond the “women’s assignments.” Th ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
*now available

4 New York Public Library stars

This was a fascinating historical novel with an amazing setting – the New York Public Library. Filled with compelling characters and the thefts of valuable books, this one really drew me in. I loved learning that there once was a residence in the library for the superintendent and his family. Hidden passageways and secrets swirled in both storylines of this one.

The older storyline is set in 1913 and features Laura, her husband, and family who live in
Dec 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Another day, another outlier review. I seem to be on a roll lately....

I just didn't love this book as much as I hoped I would, although to be fair, Fiona Davis books are rather hit or miss for me. I guess I just didn't think I would ever not gush over a book set in the New York Public Library, which I have visited and have been enamored with ever since. I figured what would there be not to love about a tale of book thefts in the NYCPL eighty years apart? As it turns out, quite a bit actually.

Sep 21, 2020 rated it liked it
It’s rare for me to struggle with a review unless I finish a book in the middle of the night. But I can’t use that excuse here.

I adored the premise and had seen other highly rated reviews and therein lay (lies?) the problem. My expectations as a bookworm and lover of this historic and glamorous building of books in my favorite metropolis did me in.

I enjoyed the historical facts and some of the fictional threads but I was disappointed by the modern mystery. And sadly it was all too easy to conn
Susan - on semi hiatus
Having liked The Dollhouse by the same author, I was elated to receive an advance review copy of this her newest title.

The story covers two resourceful heroines set eighty years apart.

Sadie and Laura were related as granddaughter and grandmother but had never met. They were also entwined through the historic New York Library and each had a significant impact in their respective time periods.

As Sadie currates an exhibit for trustees and benefactors, rare books disappear. With her passion for the
Karren  Sandercock
Thanks to Edelweiss, Penguin Publishing Group and Fiona Davis for my copy of: The Lions of Fifth Avenue.
In 1913, Jack Lyons is the superintendent of the New York Public Library; he lives in an apartment on the top floor of the building with his wife Laura and his children Pearl and Harry. Jack has been writing his first book for ten years and despite living at the library the family struggle to make ends meet. Jacks plan is for him to receive a lucrative deal for his book when it’s finished and
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am an outlier here. This book was not a favorite. Pretty predictable. Sad stories all around. Family disintegration, suicides, thievery, lost relationships, emotions and opportunities stymied, parental neglect, unlikely scenarios. The main theme of the book was not as portrayed in reviews and synopsis. It was not about the library so much or book theft but about women navigating free life choices and being denied opportunities, IMHO.
Overall, it was a big disappointment for me. No favorite quot
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-arcs
Fun tidbit: Listened to Fiona interviewed by Robin Kall from ‘Reading with Robin’ RWR, on her 9/29/20 webinar; and they were joking about the apartment within the NY Public Library should be turned into an Airbnb. Wouldn’t that be cool?! I’d sign up in a NY minute. 😊

Historical Fiction about a library just about tops the list for me. But when you get more specific and the library is one of the world’s best, “The New York Public Library,” you have my attention.

Fiona Davis said it best, “Early int
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Sep 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Adults who like reading about libraries and their treasures
This book turned out to be very different than I expected when I began it.
I have been in love with the New York Public Library for very long time. I’ve had the privilege to pat Patience and Fortitude, see the Winnie-the-Pooh toys, and explore as much of the building as visitors are allowed to see. When the book “The Story Seeker” was published, a story based on the lives of the Fedeler family who actually lived in the library as caretakers, I was absolutely intrigued! (The ultimate wish for a tr
Christina Kline
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fiona Davis is at the top of her form in this captivating historical novel about a family who lives inside the stone fortress known as New York Public Library in the early years of the twentieth century. The matriarch, Laura Lyons, finds herself drawn to a bigger life and must ultimately figure out a path that includes both her family and her larger ambitions. Many years later, her granddaughter, Sadie Donovan, a curator at the library, learns more than she ever could have imagined about her fam ...more
“The Lions of Fifth Avenue” by Fiona Davis is billed as a love story to the New York Public Library. I found it to be a fantastic women’s study story of the struggles of women in the early 1900’s. Additionally, it illuminates the significance of rare books and artifacts of great literary authors to our culture.

The story revolves around two book heists, 80 years apart, at the New York Public Library. In 1913 a family of four lives in a tiny apartment inside the New York Public Library. The father
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Love the characters, the setting and the story.

1913 - Laura Lyons and her husband Jack and their two children live in a seven room apartment tucked in a corner of the grand New York Public Library. Jack Lyons is the library superintendent and an aspiring novelist. Laura, a graduate of Vassar, wants more out of life than just being a wife and mother. She was recently accepted to the newly established Columbia School of Journalism. Her studies take her all over the city and ignite a desire
2.5 Stars for The Lions of Fifth Avenue (audiobook) by Fiona Davis read by Erin Bennett and Lisa Flanagan.

This was my least favorite of the author’s books. I think the two timeline stories are hard to do well. The premise of this story is interesting but having unlikeable characters making bad decisions and letting others suffer from there selfishness didn’t set well with me.
Aug 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Fiona Davis’ books feature iconic buildings in New York City. In 1913, Laura Lyons is living in an apartment within the New York Public Library with her husband, Jack, and two children, Harry and Pearl. The two stone lions, Leo Lenox and Leo Astor, named after John Jacob Astor and James Lenox, two of the library’s founders, flank the outdoor entrance. Jack is the library’s superintendent and is writing a novel. Laura has her own dreams and gets a scholarship to the Colombia Journalism School. Ho ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
When I was a teen, I loved Clive Cussler books. But eventually they became so tedious and formulaic that they were more like a madlib than a book and I just couldn't read them even though I would try from time to time out of loyalty and nostalgia. Before this book, Fiona Davis was the author I was most likely to tell you was my current favorite. I was so looking forward to this book as a treat. But this book was the madlib version of her writing, and I am so sad.

Here is the formula:
Take an iconi
Amy Poeppel
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this latest novel by Fiona Davis! She weaves together the stories of Laura (1913) and Sadie (1993), two women who are connected for very different reasons to the New York Public Library. There's intrigue, disappointment, hope, romance, and so many surprises. A wonderful read full of wonderful characters. ...more
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis is named for the world-renowned pair of marble lions that guard the Beaux-Arts building of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. The novel is a dual timeline story about the Lyons family which has two generations that worked in the library.

The first timeline starts in 1913 with Laura Lyons. Because her husband is the superintendent of the library, they and their two children live in an apartment inside the library. Laur
Cindy Burnett
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Set in the beautiful and historic New York Public Library, The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a dual timeline tale about two women living 80 years apart who both must deal with the theft of valuable books from the library’s collection. While investigating the missing books, each woman makes discoveries that may alter her life forever. Readers will eat up the details about the superintendent’s apartment in the library (in earlier eras they were able to live in the library!) and other less-known tidbits ...more
Diane Yannick
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I thought the setting and plot had such great possibilities. For me these possibilities were not realized. I found the time frame transitions to be clunky. The author never captured the wonderful, almost sacred atmosphere of the NYPL. The characters seemed flat—-too many, not enough depth. The plot was full of unlikely turns. The writing seemed uninspired.

I eked out the two stars because I liked learning that there were living quarters inside the library at one time and a bit about the lions. Ov
Joan Happel
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Once again, Fiona Davis brings an historic NYC building to center stage in her new historical fiction novel. The story alternates between to women, Laura Lyons in 1913 and her granddaughter Sadie in 1993. The true star of the story is the New York Public Library, first opened 1911. In 1913, It is the residence of Jack and Laura Lyons. Jack is the resident superintendent, while Laura, who cares for her two children Harry and Pearl, longs for a career in jou
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fiona Davis has done it once again! The Lions of Fifth Avenue was a delightful historical fiction mystery that was fast paced and captivating. The New York Public Library was the backdrop for this compelling story. Expertly, she managed to weave her story around this spectacular setting. The library became more than a building. Fiona Davis breathed life into the library and placed it at the heart of the story. I loved learning new details about this historic structure. Her character development ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fiona Davis has done it again. The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a wonderful book. It brings together all the elements that makes every one of Ms. Davis’ books a treasure: a dual timeline, strong female characters, an intricate plot and a beloved New York City landmark. This time that landmark is the main branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. It’s not a library, it’s a reading palace graced by the two majestic marble lions Patience and Fortitude – which you will learn were not their ...more
Betsy Robinson
Mar 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
I binge-read this intriguing multigenerational mystery centered in my own beloved New York City and the New York Public Library. The writing is solid and generic—no remarkable writer’s voice, but I enjoyed it the way I enjoy watching Law & Order on TV. Just take me away! This novel did. And it was great fun reading about my familiar haunts.

My building was built in 1910. I’ve lived in my apartment for 47 years and often I’ll lie on my couch wondering about whoever lived here before me. Who walke
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Fiona Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of six historical fiction novels set in iconic New York City buildings, including The Magnolia Palace, The Dollhouse, The Address, and The Lions of Fifth Avenue, which was a Good Morning America book club pick. Her novels have been chosen as “One Book, One Community” reads and her articles have appeared in publications like The Wall Street Journ ...more

Articles featuring this book

For those of us with a taste for it, historical fiction scratches an itch that no other genre can quite reach. By crossing the wires of...
52 likes · 4 comments
“Leave it to a librarian to point out the alliteration in my life’s tragedies.” 4 likes
“It’s time to expand our view of the household, and throw off the shackles of gender oppression. I can work, I can have a child, and I can love whomever I like. Just as you can.” 2 likes
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