Haarlem, Holland, seventeenth-century: The city’s chief magistrate commissions a family portrait from Dutch master painter Johannes Miereveld. But when the artist sees the magistrate’s daughter, Amalia, an illicit love affair begins. Miereveld creates a captivating masterpiece, The Chrysalis–a stunning portrait of the Virgin Mary, full of Catholic symbols, that outrages his Protestant patron and signals the death of his career.
New York, present day: Mara Coyne is one high-profile case away from making partner at her powerful Manhattan law firm, and now the client that is sure to seal the deal has fallen into her lap. The prestigious Beazley’s auction house is about to sell a lost masterwork, The Chrysalis, in an auction that is destined to become legendary. Standing in the way, however, is the shocking accusation that the painting belongs not to Beazley’s client but to Hilda Baum, the daughter of a Dutch collector who lost his paintings–and his life–to the Nazis.
The case brings an unexpected surprise when Mara discovers that Beazley’s in-house attorney is Michael Roarke, a man for whom she once had an intense attraction. But the same skills that make her a brilliant litigator also make Mara suspicious, and she begins to believe that Hilda’s tragic family story might be more than just heartbreaking–it might be true. And the man she’s come to love might not be who she thought he was at all.
Spanning centuries and continents, The Chrysalis is a brilliant, intelligent, fast-paced thriller that melds art and history into a provocative work of fiction. From the underground Catholicism in seventeenth-century Holland to the unspeakable crimes of the Nazis and the repercussions that reverberate to this day throughout the art world, Heather Terrell has created a fascinating story that will entrance readers to the very last page.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Heather Terrell is a lawyer with more than ten years’ experience as a litigator at two of the country’s premier law firms and for Fortune 500 companies. She is a graduate of Boston College and of the Boston University School of Law. She lives in Pittsburgh. The Chrysalis is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
The train bound for milan snakes into the berlin station, sending billows of steam high into the station’s skeletal rafters. Its whistle pierces the night once and then recedes. Silence reclaims the cavernous space, broken now and then only by the slow, steady scraping of a sweeper’s broom.
The sweeper has learned not to stare openly at the horrors that pass through the station. He knows to keep his own counsel and inhabit the shadows. Yet he watches, head bowed, from beneath the brim of his cap.
Track by track, click by click, the train comes to a stop. In the last car, a couple sits facing each other. They wait without moving, framed like portraits by the window’s ruby curtains. Their incandescence defies the heavy, quiet darkness, and the sweeper slows his pace.
He considers the woman first. A station lamppost throws her proud profile into bold relief against the dark cabin corners. The low light catches the folds of her silk persimmon dress and the ermine trim of her traveling jacket and cloche hat. He shakes his head at the decadence of her clothes and calculates the loaves of bread her ensemble could fetch on the black market. Then the sweeper shifts his attention to the man, whose overall deportment seems more respectful of a wartime journey than the woman’s. He has a naturally engaging round face, but he is dressed somberly in a charcoal suit, simple black overcoat, and fedora. His right hand clutches a worn brown envelope so tightly his knuckles shine white, and the jagged points of a yellow star peer out from his coat. The sweeper supposes that both must understand the precariousness of their travel.
Suddenly, the door to the compartment swings open with a jolt, and the man and the woman spring to their feet. The sweeper steps back into the safety of the shadows.
Flaxen boy-soldiers swarm around the couple. Their black uniforms gleam with gold buttons, and every jacket boasts the slash of red swastikas. The sweeper knows that these are not the usual station militia, and he jumps when their gloved hands cut across the compartment to take the man’s tickets.
Then the boy-soldiers part to let a decorated officer come forward.
The official leans closer to address the couple. He hands over a document with a fountain pen and demands the man’s signature; the officer wants the man to surrender something. Lowering his eyes, the traveler shakes his head. Instead, the man relinquishes his precious envelope, his hand trembling as he presents it to the officer.
The officer holds the envelope up to the cabin light, then slashes it open and scrutinizes the letter within. He stuffs the letter back into its envelope and returns it to the man. The officer and his soldiers pivot and depart, shutting the cabin door sharply behind them.
The train whistle cries out again, and the couple returns to their seats. A cautious smile curls on the corner of the man’s mouth, but the sweeper turns away in despair. He has seen the boy-soldiers hard at work. He knows that when the train pulls away from the station, the last car will remain.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Heather Terrell writes a compelling novel about stolen art and the search and legalities to return it to the rightful owners. I hope to Mara in her next novel. Can't wait
Seventeenth century Dutch art, the conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism in 17th century Europe, the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and other European countries, and Holocaust victims and their survivors all play a part in this legal thriller. Mara Coyne, an associate in a prestigious New York law firm, is hired by auction house Beazley's to defend a challenge of ownership of a painting, the Chrysalis, that Beazley's is selling on behalf of a client. The plaintiff in the suit claims that this painting was stolen from her father by the Nazis, and that she is its rightful owner.The plot for the novel is interesting, but the prose falls short of developing the suspense the author tried to convey. To enjoy a suspense novel, I need to experience a strong empathy with the protagonist in order to feel his or her confusion, uncertainty, distrust, and mounting fear. I never made that connection with Mara. I'm not sure how Mara managed to focus on her work while consuming as much alcohol as she did. After reminding herself that she needed to keep a clear head, she would proceed to drink several glasses of wine, champagne, scotch, etc. It was hard for me to believe that someone with so little willpower could have the strength of character to act on her convictions.This book sets up the premise for a series featuring Mara Coyne. There were some threats that were not carried out in The Chrysalis. In subsequent books in the series, will these threats still be hanging over Mara, or will the author inform the readers of the way the threats were resolved? Or are they just loose threads in this book? It's hard to say. The second book in the series, The Map Thief, has already been published, but I'm not curious enough to pick it up. I would recommend reading The Chrysalis first since it explains the reason behind Mara's further pursuits.
Loved the approach of Dutch Calvinist art work because of tme spent in Amsterdam. The different symbolism and twists and turns kept the story moving. Impressive first novel. Can't wait to read your second,
Fast-paced and fascinating story. I love these types of books and was pleasantly surprised to see a female lead. Looking forward to reading the next one.