Monday, March 14, 2022

Book Review: The Magnolia Palace

By Melissa Amster

Eight months since losing her mother in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, twenty-one-year-old Lillian Carter's life has completely fallen apart. For the past six years, under the moniker Angelica, Lillian was one of the most sought-after artists' models in New York City, with statues based on her figure gracing landmarks from the Plaza Hotel to the Brooklyn Bridge. But with her mother gone, a grieving Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and a looming scandal has left her entirely without a safe haven. So when she stumbles upon an employment opportunity at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian jumps at the chance. But the longer she works as a private secretary to the imperious and demanding Helen Frick, the daughter and heiress of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family—pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death.

Nearly fifty years later, mod English model Veronica Weber has her own chance to make her career—and with it, earn the money she needs to support her family back home—within the walls of the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City's most impressive museums. But when she—along with a charming intern/budding art curator named Joshua—is dismissed from the Vogue shoot taking place at the Frick Collection, she chances upon a series of hidden messages in the museum: messages that will lead her and Joshua on a hunt that could not only solve Veronica's financial woes, but could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder in the infamous Frick family. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

The Magnolia Palace is the third novel I have read by Fiona Davis and my favorite of hers so far. It was really well-told and I learned a lot about the Frick family, as I knew nothing about them until now. I loved both Lillian and Veronica. Their narratives were compelling and captivating. Helen was so feisty and I felt bad for her, while admiring her at the same time. Of course, she could be infuriating too! The descriptions really brought the story to life. It was easy to get caught up in everything that was going on and there was a mystery element that I enjoyed trying to figure out. 

I felt like the story went on a little too long at the end and could have been wrapped up a different way, but it was still great overall. 

This novel is perfect for fans of Susan Meissner, Camille Di Maio, and Renee Rosen.

Movie casting suggestions:
Lillian: Madison Lintz
Veronica: Ella Purnell
Helen: Alana Haim
Mr. Danforth: Luke Kleintank
Joshua: Kamil McFadden
Mr. Frick: Xander Berkeley
Mr. Graham: Eric Nelsen 

Thanks to Dutton for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Fiona Davis:

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