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The Magnolia Palace

—Pub Day Book Review—

Title: The Magnolia Palace

Author: Fiona Davis

Publisher: Dutton Books

Genre: Historical Fiction

Happy Publication Day to The Magnolia Palace by author Fiona Davis. Thank you to @duttonbooks for honoring my request to read and review this title via @netgalley.

Normally, I absolutely, love, love, love a dual timeline in a historical fiction novel. And author Fiona Davis is masterful in this technique; however in this case the second timeline in the 1960s felt unnecessary and very gimmicky. Its only purpose it seems was to solve the minor subplot of the the mystery in the story. I think I would’ve enjoyed the story more if the author would’ve stuck with the 1919 timeline of main character Lillian/Angelica; the struggling art model trying to cope from her mother dying from the Spanish flu. With maybe just some more flashbacks to her teen years when she began modeling.

Lillian is forced to flee her apartment when the apartment manager makes advances at her, murders his wife, and the police somehow think she is a suspect! After sleeping and wondering around on the streets, Lillian accidentally stumbles into the job of being Henry Clay Frick’s headstrong daughter, Helen’s, head secretary.

Lillian decided to take the job to save money for a train ticket out to California to act. Ultimately she seems to be just running through the motions on things because she is still devastated from losing her mother. Her employer, Helen, seems to idolize her father and is always seeking his attention. Attention that is missing because she had a younger sister that passed away. Family is a central theme in this story. In comes into play in the 1960s timeline as well when model Veronica takes a model job for a Vogue shoot at the Frick Mansion. She needs money for her twin sisters medical care.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I loved the art. I loved the Frick mansion. Honestly, those non-characters were my favorite characters. It’s a testament to how thorough the author’s research is. Well done!

Don’t forget we are reading this one now for @bookfriendsbookclub and will be discussing it this Sunday January 30th at 6pm MST via discord.

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