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All booksHistorical fictionThe Magnolia Palace
The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis
Historical fiction

The Magnolia Palace

by Fiona Davis

Quick take

A rich tale suffused with intrigue, mystery, and betrayal that swirls around the history of the infamous Frick family.

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  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

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    Slow build

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Real-life-characters

    Real-life characters

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Why I love it

Sarah Penner
Author, The Lost Apothecary

Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? I certainly do, and when perusing art museums, I can’t help but look for clues and hidden messages among the paintings: camouflaged words, disguised symbols, perhaps a face hidden amid brush strokes.

If you’re anything like me, you’re in luck. Fiona Davis’s latest, The Magnolia Palace, is a story rich in family drama, tangled romance, cryptic clues and long-buried secrets.

Set in an art museum, no less.

With her trademark flair for weaving together two tales separated by decades, Davis has penned a compelling mystery set at one of New York City’s most iconic landmarks, the lavish estate-turned-museum known as the Frick Collection. The Magnolia Palace brings to life the artists’ model posing at the front of the famous Frick Collection and imagines what might have transpired if this woman met the willful Helen Frick, daughter and heiress of the renowned Henry Clay Frick. The Frick mansion lends not only a powerful sense of place to The Magnolia Palace but provides a vivid backdrop to the turmoil that ensues when two iron-willed women find themselves at odds with one another.

The Magnolia Palace is sure to be loved by Fiona Davis’s devoted and new readers alike. Amateur sleuths will be delighted with the mystery at the heart of the story. And art lovers? Why, look no further.

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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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Magnolia Palace.

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