I chose this book because it is the latest by my favorite author, Fiona Davis. Like all her other novels, this one features and explores an iconic NYC building. Did you know there was once an apartment in the “innards” of the NY Public library where the superintendent and his family could live? Davis moves between 1913 and 1993, describing the building and telling the story of the “apartment” while creating a mystery with twists and turns.
One critic describes this 2020 publication as a “love letter to literature, the NY Public Library, and the strength of women.” Davis introduces us to two women, decades apart: Laura Lyons, wife of the superintendent of the library, mother of two, and a writer herself, and Sadie, modern curator of the NY library who is Laura’s descendent, and determined to be given her due respect. Both women are trying to solve the mystery of a series of rare book thefts, then and now, and suffer the consequences of “poking their noses into business best left to men.”
Laura back in 1913 becomes one of the first female students at the Columbia Journalism school, writing about the famous/infamous Heteradoxy Club in Greenwich Village during its days of Bohemia and nurturing of an all-female, radical group. Sadie must prove in 1993 that she herself did not steal the rare books and is not a “hysterical female,” whose job and responsibilities have become too much for her.
This historical novel is Davis’ best yet, and that’s really saying something! I highly recommend this fascinating read and assign it 5 out of 5 stars.