cover image The Magnolia Palace

The Magnolia Palace

Fiona Davis. Dutton, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-18401-1

Davis (The Lions of Fifth Avenue) returns with the captivating story of a missing diamond and the history of New York’s Henry Clay Frick House, before and after it became a museum. Veronica Weber travels from London to New York in 1966, where she works as a model on a photo shoot at the Frick Collection. After a spat with the photographer, Veronica fears she has ruined her chance for a lucrative modeling career. Then she discovers a set of papers in the museum that may provide clues to finding a rare pink diamond owned by Henry Frick, which went missing in 1919, and asks for help from archivist Joshua Lawrence. In a parallel narrative set in that year, Lillian Carter, a once sought-after artists’ model, takes a job as private secretary for Henry’s daughter, Helen, hoping to finance a move to Hollywood to work as an actor. As Veronica and Joshua continue their search for the missing diamond, Davis illuminates Lillian’s role in a long-kept Frick family secret. Davis smoothly combines fact with fiction, and offers beautiful descriptions of the family’s art collection. The colliding narratives and comprehensive descriptions of the historic mansion make for Davis’s best work to date. Agent: Stefanie Lieberman, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Jan.)