Book Review: “The Lions of Fifth Avenue” by Fiona Davis

In 1913, Laura Lyons lived in the New York Public Library’s superintendent’s apartment with her husband and two children.  While her husband managed all of the caretaking duties of the busy and awe-inspiring library, Laura raised her children and wrote an amusing column for the library’s newsletter about her family’s experience living in the famous building.  Vassar educated, Laura begins to dream of more for herself and applies to the Columbia Journalism School.  Soon, she is a student juggling a full course-load in addition to navigating the demands and prejudices of early twentieth-century women while also supporting her husband’s efforts to write the great-American novel in his precious spare time.

In 1993, Sadie Donovan holds her dream job as the curator of the New York Public Library’s famous Berg Collection.  As she prepares for a huge new exhibit, her story begins to weave with that of her grandmother, the famous feminist essayist Laura Lyons.  What unfolds is a tale of self-discovery, mystery, and chafing against expectations for both women.  It’s an enjoyable read that feels timely given everyone’s current adjustment to making our homes function as workplace, school, canteen, and place of respite and rest.  Living in a New York City Public Library employee apartment seems like the ultimate work from home opportunity!  

Fans of historical fiction, women’s history, family dynamics, romance, and whodunits will find something to like in this book.  Find yourself a comfy chair and allow yourself to be transported to NYC of yesteryear and contemporary times.  

Review by Emily Read, Development Director

Click here to request a copy. 

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