Top Shelf: The Lions of Fifth Avenue
It's been several months since the last time I read a historical fiction novel; I chose wisely with Fiona Davis' The Lions of Fifth Avenue. The story offers the perfect combination of intriguing historical details, suspense and captivating writing.
I thoroughly enjoyed following the alternating points of view and time periods of Laura Lyons, a New York City wife, mother and Columbia graduate journalism student in 1913, and Sadie Donovan, a curator at New York City Public Library in 1993.
Although 80 years separate this great-grandmother and great-granddaughter, their lives intertwine and the New York City Public Library is at the center of it all. Laura's husband is the Library's Superintendent and they reside in the apartment in the large and stately Library with their two young children. Sadie runs the Berg Collection, her dream job at the Library, and is working on a highly anticipated new exhibit.
Laura and Sadie find themselves in troubling and dire situations when important books and artifacts go missing in the Library with few clues of their whereabouts. Their lives are upended and their situations feel hopeless. As they grapple with their nightmarish realities, they come to terms with their own personal struggles in relationships, professional ambition and personal trauma.
Davis touches on important themes in this novel -- women's roles and feminism (in 1913 and 1993), family relationships across generations, marriage, sexuality and personal accountability.
Readers follow the lives of two strong, determined and heroic women. When finished, I found myself asking important questions about the decisions I've made in my own life and the effects they have had on me personally and professionally. Laura and Sadie's self-discovery is inspiring and triggered my own introspection. I highly recommend The Lions of Fifth Avenue.