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The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis Book Review

Reasons For Reading This Book:

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis was Margo’s choice for May 2023. Margo is one of the hosts of the Readheads podcast book club. This is a book club that I have participated in each month since it was established. From what I can remember I like about half of Margo’s book choices. Her preferred genre is romance. I did not read the description of this book before I started it, I just jumped right into it.

Content of This Book:

In 1919 Lillian Carter's mother died of the Spanish Flu. Being her only family, Lillian was now on her own. Prior to her mother's death, Lillian was known as Angelica, the current most famous artists' model in New York City. Faced with the reality of an unfortunate scandal and death, Lillian is forced to find a new way to make money. She has aspirations of being an actress, but doesn't yet have the means to get to Hollywood to pursue this dream. In a series of events she lands a job as the private secretary of Helen Frick, the daughter of industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick. In this role she is faced with Helen's difficult personality, trying to hide her past, and met the demands of a position she is not qualified to perform. In 1969, a young English woman Veronica is given an odd haircut that lands her with an agent who books her for a modeling job in the United States. With this being her first job she is ill-prepared for the task and winds up locked in the Frick residence with Joshua, an intern. Together Joshua and Veronica uncover hidden messages inside the Frick house that provides clues to a decades-old murder and the possibility to solve their financial troubles. 

What I Liked About This Book:

I appreciated the detailed descriptions of the art pieces. It can sometimes be hard to picture pieces of art through just a description, but I feel like I was able to create a visual idea of the described art pieces. The only other thing I liked about this book is that there were different plot points happening simultaneously in each narration. This gave the story more depth and made for a more interesting read. I was not particularly a huge fan of either narrator, but they did having redeeming qualities that I appreciated. 

What I Disliked About This Book:

One plot point that really irritated me is the mystery behind the death of Lillian’s landlord’s wife. Anytime this plot point was mentioned in the book the same things were said each time, there was rarely any new information or advancement in the case. The first thing I thought when I read the last page of the book is, so what happened with the murder/death. Fiona really dropped the ball on not wrapping up this plot point. I am writing this review before the podcast episode has been recorded or released. I plan to submit a question about this to the email account so the hosts can discuss it. The host's answered my question and said that in a single sentence it was mentioned that someone was convicted of the murder, so I must have missed that. Another complaint that I have about the book is that Veronica is from England but the author rarely had her vocabulary reflect that. There were a few instances where she used popular British words, but mostly she just sounded American. I repeatedly forgot that she was not American until something about her life in England was mentioned. The author really missed the chance to create opposing narrative between the two women if she used more British vocabulary for Veronica. The next dislike I have about this book is that I could never picture or imagine Lillian as an actress. The way she presented herself never gave me the impression that she would be successful at acting. Her inner monologue made her seem more confident and capable then the way she actually presented herself. I doubted her ability to be an actor from the start.

Would I Recommend This Book?

I am going to recommend this book to my best friend who studied art history in college and works in the art world currently. Even though I appreciated the art in this book I feel like she will appreciate it even more. I would recommend this book to those who are interested in art and art history, but if that is not an interest of yours then I would not recommend it.

Check out my book reviews for 2023!!

Horse by Geraldine Brooks  
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Hester by Laurie Pico Albanese
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Environmental and Sustainability Book Reviews 2022
Self-Improvement Book Reviews 2022
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Not All Diamonds and Rosé by Dave Quinn
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham 
Girls With Bright Futures by Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman
Run, Rose, Run by James Patterson and Dolly Parton
The Summer Series by Jenny Han
A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard
The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives by Brian Moylan
Verity by Colleen Hoover
All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart 
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Majesty: American Royals 2 by Kathrine McGree
Every Last Secret by A.R. Torre

Check out my book reviews for 2021!!

2021 Book Rankings

Beach Read By Emily Henry
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Educated by Tara Westover
The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig 
The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins 
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins 
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Klara and the Sun 
The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner
American Duchess by Karen Harper 
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Girl With No Job by Claudia Oshry
Down the Habit Hole by Holly Madison Book Review
My Story by Elizabeth Smart
Layla by Colleen Hoover

Check out my book reviews for 2020!!

Check out my book reviews for 2019!!

Check out my book reviews from 2018!!

Don't forget to stay up to date on my blog by following my social media accounts!
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