“The Magnolia Palace” features the Frick Museum, one of New York City’s most striking Gilded Age mansions. As is typical of Davis’ books, this one is written as a dual timeline alternating between 1919 with a murder mystery within the Frick family and “present day” 1966 when a model and an archivist become locked in the museum overnight.
I enjoyed the story of “Angelica” (Lillian Carter aka “Miss Lilly”) who was one of the most sought-after artists’ models in New York City. Statues of her are at various landmarks in the city. I never really thought about the women who posed for statues, which is one of the main points of this book. Miss Lilly is hired as personal secretary to the demanding and eccentric Helen Clay Frick. Thus, Lilly is thrust into the middle of the Frick family’s daily lives.
While the Frick family seemed to have it all, the unveiling of secrets and schemes within their house was interesting. Mr. Henry Clay Frick was nasty to his daughter Helen. Mrs. Frick locks herself away day after day. Martha, the oldest child, died at a young age. And siblings Helen and Childs do not get along.
Overall, I found the story fascinating and am eager for another story by Fiona Davis. I think anyone with an interest in the architectural landmarks of NYC will enjoy this book.
I received an Advance Review Copy of this book. All opinions are my own.