The Magnolia Palace – Book Review

Lillian “Angelica” Carter was one of the most sought-after artists’ models in New York City, with hundreds of statues based on her figure gracing landmarks all over the city. But when her mother dies in the Spanish flu outbreak of 1919, Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and she is suspected of murder. So when she is hired to be the personal secretary to Helen Frick, the imperious and demanding daughter of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family.

Nearly fifty years later, 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. After a Vogue photoshoot within the walls of the former Frick residence, now converted into one of New York City’s most impressive museums, she finds several hidden messages that could finally reveal the truth behind a decades-old murder.

If you enjoy historical fiction and mystery, and have a penchant for art, this book is for you. Fiona Davis juices up the real lives of the legendary Frick family, and Audrey Munson, who was the inspiration for Lillian Carter’s character. One of the most enjoyable aspects of reading this book was going online to research the lives of these characters. Don’t worry, though, I’m not a spoiler. You’ll have to find out for yourself. Dual narratives are tricky, but Fiona Davis does a fine job jumping between the Twenties and the Sixties, both fascinating decades. I have several of her other books on my TBR list, so I’m glad I enjoyed this one. 4 stars.

Publication Date: January 2022
Genre: Historical fiction
Read-alikes: The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin, Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen, Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray


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