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.