The Magnolia Palace

by Fiona Davis
Historical Fiction: Another dual timeline and fabulous book by Fiona Davis. One timeline takes us back to 1919 and the life of  Lillian, a model for sculptors. She loses her mother to the Spanish flu and is a person of interest in the death of her landlord's wife. The second timeline occurs in 1966 when model Veronica Weber gets left behind after a photo shoot trapping her inside the Frick Museum.The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis.  #historical fiction, #reading, #books to read, #books

Discussion Questions

1.If you could meet any of these characters and have a conversation with them, who would it be? What would your conversation be about?

2. When Miss Helen meets Lillian, she says, "I like to make things difficult for other people. You should know that right off: I'm known to be difficult." How does their relationship evolve over the course of the book?

3.While trying to convince Lillian to pose for his statues, Mr. Konti says that if the people of New York "walk by one of my statues and look up and see something beautiful, an idea or person who inspires them, then I have done my job. I do this not for me. It's for humanity." What do you think of this statement? Does it resonate with you and the role public art plays in your life? Why or why not?

4. Miss Helen seems disconnected from reality, and is frequently oblivious to the feelings and motives of those around her. Why do you think that is? How do you think her wealth and position have al-tered her worldview? How did it affect the way she treated people like Lillian, or the way her father regarded people like Bertha?Discussion QuestionsHelen Clay FrickAudrey Munson

5.How do Joshua's experiences as a Black man in the art world affect the way he views the art at the Frick? Do his experiences alter your views of art history in any way?

6.How do Lillian's and Veronica's experiences work-ing as models in two different decades compare? In what ways does the novel explore the difference between being looked at versus being seen?

7.The tenuous friendship Joshua and Veronica build during their stay in the Frick Collection is almost destroyed when Veronica betrays his trust. What are the stakes for each of them in that moment? What makes Veronica's actions dangerous for both and how do their situations differ? What would you have encouraged Veronica to do with her find?

8. Did the ending surprise you? How do you think the truth of what really happened to Henry Clay Frick and the Magnolia diamond affected the different characters at the end?

9.If you could go back in time to one of the eras Fiona Davis writes about in The Magnolia Palace, would you? Which would you choose?

Book Club Talking Points:
It's interesting to compare working as a model in 1919 vs. 1966, both from the model's and society's perspectives. The Frick family dynamics are also interesting - does having money and privilege mean happiness?

Discussion Questions by the Publisher

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