The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis
The book is an interesting view of how several strong women with different backgrounds end up interacting with each other and the life long changes that happened. Miss Helen Frick is a headstrong independent woman in the 1910s whose family’s wealth allow her to focus on her passion art and art history, instead of conforming to social norms of the time. Miss Lilian “Lilly” Carter is a muse for artists, but whose life has turned upside down after her mother dies and she is rumored to have a part in the murder of her landlord’s wife. Miss Winnie is a staff member of the Frick household, nursemaid at first and then Mrs. Frick’s personal companion. During the time that these women are alive and in the Magnolia Palace in New York City their lives are altered. Miss Lilly agrees to work with Mr. Frick to help Miss Helen become engaged. However, while working for Miss Helen she realizes that the passion they both share for art and art history might make them both happy instead of marrying and having a family. The unfortunate death of Mr. Frick, under suspicious circumstances turns Miss Helen against Miss Lilly, and this is compounded by Miss Helen’s suitor falling for Miss Lilly. Miss Lilly realized that as a model for artists she was able to adapt to be whatever the situation required and did that even when she was in the Frick house. Miss Winnie, who knows more than she lets on, thought Miss Lilly was applying to be a personal secretary for Miss Helen when she was staring up at a sculpture of her at the Frick house. Over the course of a few months these three ladies impact each other in ways that are not realized until the final few chapters. Jump to 1966 and the story comes full circle and is completed in what feels like a somewhat forced manner through Veronica who reconnects these three ladies and finds out the truth of what really happened to Mr. Frick.
This book was an interesting read, but the jumping to 1966 seemed forced and at time. Miss Helen and Miss Lilly were really the interest stories, however their impact on each other would not be realized if Veronica had not been there to reconnect these ladies. The author is a fabulous story teller, however because of the forced feeling of the 1966 characters the book is not recommended as a must read, it is recommended as a good read.