The Magnolia Palace, a review by Di

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Fiona Davis

Penguin Group Dutton
January 25, 2022
368 pages

Amazon | Goodreads

Once again, Fiona Davis has taken the reader on a fictional journey with lots of historical facts thrown in. It’s almost like stepping into a time machine.

As in previous books by this author, a prominent building in New York City plays a major part. This time it is The Frick Collection. It is a mansion built by the Frick Family, filled with priceless artwork by the masters. Now it serves as an art museum.

Dual timelines, 1919 and 1966. Each era features a young lady, in search of a future for herself. Lillian, in 1919, was a model for sculptures who joins the Frick household as a personal secretary. Veronica, in 1966, a British model on assignment taking place in the Frick mansion.

There is mystery involving the Frick family. There is murder and family tensions. A lot of interesting historical facts are brought out and these become interesting with the use of literary license. As in previous books, Ms Davis has done a lot of research and blends the past with the present very well.

Something else I wish to mention…..I love the word “besmirched”. It’s not often that one can find it in a current book. It’s a word that seems to have disappeared with the Model T Ford. Always a pleasure to see it pop up, as it did in this book.

I have read and enjoyed all of Ms. Davis’ books including this one. After going back and reading my previous reviews, I do think that the books are becoming somewhat formulaic. Most have dual timelines with the protagonist in each timeline following similar paths. I love the fact that each book features a landmark building in New York that becomes as familiar as a character. I love the historical facts presented. It keeps me Googling and learning. I would love to see one of Davis’s books go in a different direction, perhaps with only one timeline. The story from the past always seems to be a bit more compelling. But, this is just my observation, the books are all very enjoyable.

Ms. Davis adds a note at the end for the reader. She explains where she changed the time sequence in order for the story to make sense. And, also, an explanation of how she combines fiction with history to make it interesting. A huge amount of research goes into her books.

I loved the ending. There was closure and it was uplifting.
This was a very enjoyable and entertaining read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity with the Advance Readers Copy.

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