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In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them. For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiec In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them. For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different. For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come. Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece--an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.


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In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them. For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiec In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them. For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different. For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come. Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece--an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

30 review for The Masterpiece

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rose (Traveling Sister)

    Just take all the stars, Fiona Davis! You deserve them! This book is the literary equivalent of sipping luscious coffee at a patio cafe, right next to a bustling historic square, on a perfect autumn day. It is sunny and breezy. There's lots to take in, but it moves at its own steady pace. The feeling I have upon finishing The Masterpiece is that which only an exquisite work of historical fiction can provide: nostalgia for things I never experienced. In 1928, a group of fabulously-named artists (am Just take all the stars, Fiona Davis! You deserve them! This book is the literary equivalent of sipping luscious coffee at a patio cafe, right next to a bustling historic square, on a perfect autumn day. It is sunny and breezy. There's lots to take in, but it moves at its own steady pace. The feeling I have upon finishing The Masterpiece is that which only an exquisite work of historical fiction can provide: nostalgia for things I never experienced. In 1928, a group of fabulously-named artists (among them Clara Darden and Levon Zakarian) struggle to hit it big, both at the Grand Central School of Art and in NYC at large. Clara is an illustrator who works on commercial projects, and a woman to boot, making her less appreciated than some of her highly-esteemed, tortured male colleagues. Her narrative is fraught with battling toxic ideas about what (or who) makes real art. "Starving, she headed downstairs to the main concourse, where cocoa-pink walls trimmed in Botticino marble soared into the air. Electrically lit stars and painted constellations twinkled along the turquoise vaulted ceiling..." Go ahead, wrap yourself up in that luxurious language. The school, which actually did exist, fell on hard times during the Great Depression. By 1974, it is nothing more than a forgotten wing on a forgotten floor of Grand Central Terminal, which is in such disrepair that various firms are actively trying to tear it down and build on top of it. In this timeline, we follow Virginia Clay, a recently divorced woman who is left with no option but to take a job at a dingy kiosk in the middle of Grand Central. Naturally curious, she stumbles upon hints of the former school's decadence, and she works to unlock the answers to her deepening questions - answers that some people would like to keep secret. As Virginia gets to know the gaggle of misfits she works with, she also navigates the post-divorce relationship with her daughter, Ruby, who is becoming a woman herself. "...Virginia had watched her crumple. That was the right word, the only word. Crumple. Bit by bit, muscle by muscle, a puzzled agony had worked its way down her darling daughter's face." As the artists rise and fall and rise again in the Gilded Age, Virginia is learning more about them in her own era of Bowie and bell-bottoms. Eventually, things converge in an unlikely way. There is not one character in this book who felt underdeveloped to me, and the relationships have such depth and value that it almost didn't feel like fiction at times. "No one knows what I am. But I don't care, because I love the way that I move through this world. I love my perspective on the world. I've earned it and anyone else can go to hell. I wouldn't have wanted to paint you if I didn't think you were a fascinating subject: a woman of a certain age, with the wounds to prove it. That's what interests me. Desperate to cover those wounds, but still carrying them capably." You don't necessarily have to be a fan of fine art to enjoy this book, but I suppose it would help. While The Masterpiece has its fair share of pretentious artists, it's really about art being stripped of all the grandiosity and looking at the people who make it. Anything we create that sparks our passion, anything that captures how we see or think or feel in any moment in time, whether we want it to be seen by the world or squirreled away for decades, can be called our art. And Davis's plot itself is a work of art. It feels fresh despite being firmly nestled in the past (two pasts, really). There is such vivid attention to detail that you can't help but feel the mink on your shoulders or smell the thick grime in the air or hear the clinking of champagne glasses. Everywhere Fiona Davis wanted to take me, I gladly and effortlessly went. Without that magic touch, that special ability to show and not tell, a work of historical fiction falls flat. Indeed, so does most art. Thank you to Edelweiss and Dutton for an ARC of this book, which publishes Aug. 7, 2018.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    3.5 stars I’ve only seen the Grand Cental Terminal once several years ago . I knew it was a historic landmark and had been refurbished but I didn’t know the history of it, only focusing on its magnificence as I stood in there taking it in . This story gave me some of that background. I was drawn to Fiona Davis’ novel mainly because I enjoy reading about historic New York City and most of this story takes place there in 1920’s as well the nearer history of the 1970’s . In the dual narratives, we 3.5 stars I’ve only seen the Grand Cental Terminal once several years ago . I knew it was a historic landmark and had been refurbished but I didn’t know the history of it, only focusing on its magnificence as I stood in there taking it in . This story gave me some of that background. I was drawn to Fiona Davis’ novel mainly because I enjoy reading about historic New York City and most of this story takes place there in 1920’s as well the nearer history of the 1970’s . In the dual narratives, we come to know the characters of two strong women. Clara was a struggling artist and instructor of illustration at the Grand Central School of Art which was in the terminal in the 1920’s. She struggles for acceptance of her illustrations as art but mostly as a woman trying to gain a place in the art world dominated by men. Virginia is struggling to get by after the breakup of her marriage of 19 years. She takes a job at the Grand Central Terminal at the Information desk. Their stories alternate and connect when Virginia stumbles on the old Art School and finds a drawing that she connects to a painting in an art catalog she has seen. So there’s a mystery, there are romantic liaisons for both Clara and Virginia and in the 1970’s section the possibility looming that the terminal may be demolished if it isn’t given Landmark Status. It was interesting to learn the role that Jackie Onassis played in that fight. Overall, I enjoyed the novel. I usually find myself liking the past story more than the modern one in these dual time frame narratives, but I found myself interested in both of them. I think Davis does a great job of depicting the times. It’s a good story, a pat ending, but I was glad to have read it. It came at a good time after reading some heavier books. This was my second Traveling Sister Read. Thanks, ladies for a good discussion ! I received an advanced copy of this book from Dutton through Edelweiss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Book of Secrets

    THE MASTERPIECE is about two women, fifty years apart, whose parallel stories suddenly intersect at New York City's historic Grand Central. It's clearly well researched regarding what was happening at the train station in the late 1920s and early 1970s, on the verge of the Great Depression, and later, at risk of being demolished. I have mixed feelings about this book. While I thought Clara's story in the earlier time period was more interesting, I never quite warmed to Clara's character (though THE MASTERPIECE is about two women, fifty years apart, whose parallel stories suddenly intersect at New York City's historic Grand Central. It's clearly well researched regarding what was happening at the train station in the late 1920s and early 1970s, on the verge of the Great Depression, and later, at risk of being demolished. I have mixed feelings about this book. While I thought Clara's story in the earlier time period was more interesting, I never quite warmed to Clara's character (though I was sympathetic to her struggles). And while Virginia was likable and relatable, her story in 1974 wasn't as gripping. The plot seemed to struggle to move forward at times, and I had trouble staying engaged. The twist at the end was a good one, though! I think readers with an interest in the 1920s art scene will enjoy this book. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    4.5 stars The Masterpiece is Fiona Davis’ best book to date, and I have loved all three of her books. New York City is one of my favorite places to visit, and each of Davis’ books contains a myriad of fascinating details about a particular building and era in the city. The Masterpiece focuses on Grand Central Terminal (I never knew it was Grand Central Terminal versus Grand Central Station) during the late-1920’s and the mid-1970’s, two very different time periods for the terminal. In 1928, Clara 4.5 stars The Masterpiece is Fiona Davis’ best book to date, and I have loved all three of her books. New York City is one of my favorite places to visit, and each of Davis’ books contains a myriad of fascinating details about a particular building and era in the city. The Masterpiece focuses on Grand Central Terminal (I never knew it was Grand Central Terminal versus Grand Central Station) during the late-1920’s and the mid-1970’s, two very different time periods for the terminal. In 1928, Clara Darden works as an art instructor in the Grand Central School of Art located high up in the terminal when Grand Central Terminal is beautifully maintained and a highlight of the city; in 1974, Virginia Clay is newly divorced and sent by a temp agency to work at the terminal when Grand Central has seen better days and is being targeted for demolition. The story alternates between the two time periods, and Davis fabulously recreates the atmosphere and relevance of the terminal in both time periods. As the stories progress, the two tales converge in a surprising and satisfying manner. My favorite part of the book was the focus in 1974 on the importance of trying to save Grand Central Terminal from demolition. I love visiting the terminal when I am in the city and am thankful that Jackie Onassis and others had the sense and ability to preserve the beautiful landmark. I also loved learning more about the inner workings of the terminal. I highly recommend The Masterpiece; it is a beautiful read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    I jumped on the chance to read this because I really liked Fiona Davis's last book, The Address. The action goes back and forth between 1920s New York City in which Clara is teaching at Grand Central School of Art and trying to make it big as an illustrator and the 1970s in which newly divorced Virginia Clay is working at the Grand Central Terminal. Virginia stumbles upon a watercolor in the abandoned art school and sets out find the artist. This is a historical fiction book which also focuses o I jumped on the chance to read this because I really liked Fiona Davis's last book, The Address. The action goes back and forth between 1920s New York City in which Clara is teaching at Grand Central School of Art and trying to make it big as an illustrator and the 1970s in which newly divorced Virginia Clay is working at the Grand Central Terminal. Virginia stumbles upon a watercolor in the abandoned art school and sets out find the artist. This is a historical fiction book which also focuses on the real life effort to save Grand Central from being replaced with an office tower. Even though I don't have a big interest in the art world, I actually enjoyed that aspect of the story. What I loved about the book was the female characters who might have been down on their luck but really showed their strength when the going got tough. There was one part of the plot towards the end that I didn't really care for as it was a bit of an eye-roller but the story redeemed itself by the end. Definitely recommend if you like historical fiction and strong female characters. Thank you to First to Read for the advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Babydimps (Suzy)

    4 stars! After loving Fiona Davis’ previous novel, The Address, I was thrilled to get my hands on The Masterpiece. This book was told in two POV‘s - Clara and Virginia, 50 years apart. I loved the Grand Central Station setting and learning about its history, especially the Grand Central School of Art in the late 1920’s and early ‘30’s. Ms. Davis really does a great job in her historical storytelling. I learn a lot from reading her books. In fact, she is one of the very few authors who turned me 4 stars! After loving Fiona Davis’ previous novel, The Address, I was thrilled to get my hands on The Masterpiece. This book was told in two POV‘s - Clara and Virginia, 50 years apart. I loved the Grand Central Station setting and learning about its history, especially the Grand Central School of Art in the late 1920’s and early ‘30’s. Ms. Davis really does a great job in her historical storytelling. I learn a lot from reading her books. In fact, she is one of the very few authors who turned me on to historical fiction - a genre that I was never a big fan of. Thanks to her, I find myself exploring more books from this genre and really liking them! I look forward to seeing what’s next from her! Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce

    3.5 engaging stars This was my very first book by Fiona Davis and of course, being a former New York girl, I was so enticed by its setting, that of New York's Grand Central terminal. The original terminal was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt and than later redone in 1903 becoming the biggest construction project in New York's history up to that time. Taking ten years to complete, it was built on seventy acres, thirty-two miles of track, and thirty passenger platforms. It has an amazing history and w 3.5 engaging stars This was my very first book by Fiona Davis and of course, being a former New York girl, I was so enticed by its setting, that of New York's Grand Central terminal. The original terminal was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt and than later redone in 1903 becoming the biggest construction project in New York's history up to that time. Taking ten years to complete, it was built on seventy acres, thirty-two miles of track, and thirty passenger platforms. It has an amazing history and was saved by the efforts of Jackie Kennedy and others from being demolished in the seventies. This building was quite a backdrop for this story. The Masterpiece alternates between two time periods, that of the 1920's and the 1970's telling the story of two women, Clara Darden, an aspiring artist in the 1920's, and Virginia Clay, a recent divorcee, of the 1970's. The tale starts out when Virginia, who has found a job working at the terminal's information booth, finds an old painting and is spurred onto finding its history and creator. The story goes back and forth between the characters of an old art school which was located in the terminal, and the people who populate the terminal within Virginia's circle. The book is character driven and the author tries very hard to interweave their stories into that of the terminal as its background. Personally, I found the characters to be a bit distant and at times felt the story was a bit rushed particularly the ending. I very much enjoyed when the building itself was discussed and wished that the author had included a bit more history in the telling. All in all, this was a readable tale and one that has encouraged this reader to both do some research and to pick up another of Ms Davis's books. If you enjoy a story of independent women who come together in an unique and engaging way, this book offers one a bridge between two time periods, two independent women, and the building that united them across decades. https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/gran... Thank you to The Traveling Sisters who read this book along with me. As always, the discussions we generated made the reading that much more valuable. Thanks also to my local library, again coming through with that one book I was searching for. My reviews can be found here: https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    What would an art school teacher and an information booth attendee have in common besides Grand Central since the women lived 50 years apart? You would be surprised. Clara taught illustration at the art school when it was in its hey day, and Virginia needed to work since she had been recently divorced. Since Virginia had no skills, the information booth was the best the temp agency could do for her. The connection Virginia had to Clara was a drawing she found in the abandoned art school on the se What would an art school teacher and an information booth attendee have in common besides Grand Central since the women lived 50 years apart? You would be surprised. Clara taught illustration at the art school when it was in its hey day, and Virginia needed to work since she had been recently divorced. Since Virginia had no skills, the information booth was the best the temp agency could do for her. The connection Virginia had to Clara was a drawing she found in the abandoned art school on the seventh floor of Grand Central. We, the reader, move back and forth from both time periods and learn about both women’s lives, their secrets, and Grand Central. Virginia found drawings all over the school’s rooms and found one drawing in particular that was of interest and signed by Clyde. This particular drawing had some odd characteristics, and someone didn’t want Virginia to have it. THE MASTERPIECE was focused on the artists of New York and the history of Grand Central. Ms. Davis did impeccable research about Grand Central’s history as well as characters based on real people and others fictitiously portrayed. Both the history of Grand Central and the characters wove a pull-you-in story line. Did you know that Grand Central had been in jeopardy of being torn down at one point in history? New York is a fascinating place historically, and I always enjoy going back in time to learn of bits and pieces of its hidden history. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the life styles, the parties, and the clothing. I am a nostalgic at heart. Ms. Davis has created another beautiful “masterpiece” that historical fiction fans, New York City fans, mystery fans, and artists will love. Make it part of your "required" summer reading. 5/5 This book was given to me as an ARC. All opinions are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Norma * Traveling Sister

    Enjoyable and entertaining read! I loved the setting of the Grand Central Terminal and the art aspect to this novel was quite intriguing. Full review to follow shortly *Traveling Sisters Read*

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Fiona Davis was one of the first HF authors I read and enjoyed, I loved both The Dollhouse and The Address and have been super excited about The Masterpiece. Davis has honed a keen ability to write dazzling stories about NYC, she really brings the city to life and truly sweeps you away to a different time and place. This is told via a dual narrative flipping from the 1920s where Clara is a young artist trying to break in to a world where men rule and then Virginia in the 1970s as she also faces o Fiona Davis was one of the first HF authors I read and enjoyed, I loved both The Dollhouse and The Address and have been super excited about The Masterpiece. Davis has honed a keen ability to write dazzling stories about NYC, she really brings the city to life and truly sweeps you away to a different time and place. This is told via a dual narrative flipping from the 1920s where Clara is a young artist trying to break in to a world where men rule and then Virginia in the 1970s as she also faces obstacles in a male dominated society. I adored both of these strong, female characters, even being fifty years apart they faced many of the same issues and had similar struggles and were both so brave and determined. Though their narratives both seemed connected in a loose manner I never guessed just how cleverly Davis would weave their tales together. The rich and vibrant history of Grand Central Terminal was absolutely fascinating to me, I had no idea that at one time it was almost torn down! Besides the interesting bits of history you have some romance and even a mystery, a little bit of everything for everyone. HF will love this one and if you’re new to the genre Davis is a great author to start with, she’s fabulous! The Masterpiece in the words: Dazzling, Captivating and Impassioned.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Reading.Between.Wines

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5 All the stars!!! Seriously, I couldn't be more excited about The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis. This was my first time reading a book by her and it will clearly not be my last. What it's about: Told in dual timelines, we get the stories of Clara Darden who is a female painter and illustrator in the 1920's, and the story of Virginia Clay which is set in the 1970s and largely deals with the fight to save Grand Central Terminal. Throw in a mystery about a watercolor and an anonymous painter na ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5 All the stars!!! Seriously, I couldn't be more excited about The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis. This was my first time reading a book by her and it will clearly not be my last. What it's about: Told in dual timelines, we get the stories of Clara Darden who is a female painter and illustrator in the 1920's, and the story of Virginia Clay which is set in the 1970s and largely deals with the fight to save Grand Central Terminal. Throw in a mystery about a watercolor and an anonymous painter named "Clyde" and we have quite the story. I loved how both timelines came together to form one story and the progression of both stories as their separate entities. The Masterpiece is truly historical fiction at its finest, and I was fascinated with everything about Grand Central Terminal and The Grand Central School of Art. I know this is a work of fiction, but it definitely seemed like there was a lot of truth to the story as well and it blew me away more than a little bit. Davis has some of the best writing I have ever experienced, and I found myself completely enamored with the story. This book was an incredibly quick read and offers so much more than just historical fiction. There is so much wisdom on relationships, and a nice little dose of romance as well. Not all the characters are completely lovable, but I loved them all just the same in different ways and for what they all do for the story. Complex characters, a terrific plot, and some fun surprises make this a 5 star read plus more. This book is also incredibly witty and made me laugh out loud multiple times. I experienced a full spectrum of emotions while reading it and I didn't want the story to ever end because I loved it so much. Final Thought: I don't want to talk about the plot too much because I think this book is best experienced going in blind like I did. Going into it, I had heard amazing things about Fiona Davis and knew I had to read this book no matter what it was about. If you like historical fiction then I highly recommend The Masterpiece even if you aren't necessarily interested in painting or Grand Central. Even if you just appreciate her writing, this is definitely worth the read!

  12. 4 out of 5

    BookGypsy

    Amazing! The story is centered around New York's Grand Central Terminal and two women that worked there during different eras. Clair,a young woman who teaches at the art school in the 1920's. But dreams of doing the cover for Vogue. Later in the 1970's the Grand Central is much different and more dangerous than in the 1920's we meet Virginia. Recently divorced who takes a job at the information booth to support herself and her daughter Ruby. When Virginia happens to discover the old art school sh Amazing! The story is centered around New York's Grand Central Terminal and two women that worked there during different eras. Clair,a young woman who teaches at the art school in the 1920's. But dreams of doing the cover for Vogue. Later in the 1970's the Grand Central is much different and more dangerous than in the 1920's we meet Virginia. Recently divorced who takes a job at the information booth to support herself and her daughter Ruby. When Virginia happens to discover the old art school she finds a painting and sets out to find the artist. Unraveling the mystery of Clair who disappeared.I loved this story. Being transported back in time to New York in the 1920's is always a favorite for me. The history of the Grand Central and the world of art. I found this story of these two women captivating. As stunning and beautiful as the cover. Thank You Net Galley Dawn BookGypsy Novels N Latte Book Blog

  13. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Historical Fictional novel, The Masterpiece, has two POVs, two different decades: fifty years apart, two Masterpieces and one mystery. Imbedded within are two intelligent and talented women fighting for their right to have a voice in their lives, especially regarding their livelihoods. In 1928, Clara Darden is a young struggling artist trying to keep her new job as an assistant instructor at the famed Grand Central Art School, ‘tucked under the eaves’ on the 7th floor of the Grand Central Termin Historical Fictional novel, The Masterpiece, has two POVs, two different decades: fifty years apart, two Masterpieces and one mystery. Imbedded within are two intelligent and talented women fighting for their right to have a voice in their lives, especially regarding their livelihoods. In 1928, Clara Darden is a young struggling artist trying to keep her new job as an assistant instructor at the famed Grand Central Art School, ‘tucked under the eaves’ on the 7th floor of the Grand Central Terminal (GCT). In 1974, Virginia Clay is a newly divorced mother of one, trying to find her footing in NYC, home for the last 20 years, but now as a single woman. Finances are tight as she and her 21-year-old daughter, move into a small apartment and look for jobs neither have qualifications for. Our first Masterpiece is Grand Central Terminal itself, in my opinion. The GCT was finally completed in 1913, although begun by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1869, at its present location. By the mid-1960’s it fell into disrepair and a proposal to build a 55-story tower on top of it was proposed in 1967. Ms. Davis covers the almost 10-year litigation in this book to save GCT and designate it as a National Historic Landmark. The second Masterpiece is a painting, named “The Siren” by an unknown artist who signed the painting as, ‘Clyde.” The mystery surrounds this painting. Who really painted it, where has it been for the last forty years, and who placed it in auction? The reader will unravel these answers in an appropriate and timely manner. You will not be bored but filled with anticipation and suspense. There are other characters that play into the lives of the women, especially their amours, but I prefer not to mention them for fear of revealing information that might spoil your fun. This is Fiona Davis’ best book to date; I highly recommend it! Thank you NetGalley, Dutton – Penguin Random House, and Fiona Davis

  14. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    4 stars Thank you to Penguins' First to Read and Dutton for the opportunity to read and review this digital ARC. Publishes August 7, 2018. Another 'masterpiece' by Fiona Davis. Davis is becoming one of my all time favorite authors. Her mastery at taking current buildings back to their hey day is both wonderful and enlightening. She sets the mark for renewing the history of some of our well known popular structures. This book takes us back into the history of Grand Central Station. We move throug 4 stars Thank you to Penguins' First to Read and Dutton for the opportunity to read and review this digital ARC. Publishes August 7, 2018. Another 'masterpiece' by Fiona Davis. Davis is becoming one of my all time favorite authors. Her mastery at taking current buildings back to their hey day is both wonderful and enlightening. She sets the mark for renewing the history of some of our well known popular structures. This book takes us back into the history of Grand Central Station. We move through the lives of two women - fifty years apart. Clara Darden - artist, who teaches at the Grand Central School of Art in the 1920's. She fights her way to the top, only to be interrupted by the Great Depression. We then meet Virginia Clay in 1974. A working mother, hoping that demolition does not take both her job and the Grand Central Station, when she chances on a painting. This sets in motion Clay's desire to find the artist - who was last seen in 1931 - while she also takes up the battle to save the declining building. As these two powerful characters weave their stories back and forth we see the brilliance of Davis' story telling. As were her other books, set in New York City, in a building, with such a rich history, still standing and timeless today as they were in the past. Fiona Davis only gets better with each book she writes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Rosenblit

    4.5 stars! I am really happy to be able to say I have read all of Fiona Davis' books and have loved them all! When I was given the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Masterpiece, it was a no brainer. One thing that I especially love about Fiona's books are that they take place in my very own city of New York! I love being able to visualize the places she discusses and how they must have looked back when the book was set. The Masterpiece takes place in both the 1920s and the 1970s (I love 4.5 stars! I am really happy to be able to say I have read all of Fiona Davis' books and have loved them all! When I was given the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Masterpiece, it was a no brainer. One thing that I especially love about Fiona's books are that they take place in my very own city of New York! I love being able to visualize the places she discusses and how they must have looked back when the book was set. The Masterpiece takes place in both the 1920s and the 1970s (I love me a good dual timeline) and deals with Grand Central Terminal - coincidentally, Grand Central is about a block from my office and I have lunch there nearly every day! I love to learn to guess how the timelines will come together in Fiona's books and see if I can spot the clues along the way. I found Clara and Virginia to both be strong female characters who I enjoyed getting to know in the pages of The Masterpiece - but, I will say, it's Fiona's writing that is the real Masterpiece here! I received an advance copy. All opinions are my own.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Fiona Davis brings to life the story of Grand Central Terminal and the fight to preserve its Landmark status in this historical fiction tale! The story alternates between the lives of two strong female characters- Virginia Clay who is a 1970’s New York City divorcee trying to resume her life as a single woman, and Clara Darden, an artist and fashion illustrator who is trying to establish her reputation as a talented artist in 1920-1930’s New York City. The alternating stories of the two women are Fiona Davis brings to life the story of Grand Central Terminal and the fight to preserve its Landmark status in this historical fiction tale! The story alternates between the lives of two strong female characters- Virginia Clay who is a 1970’s New York City divorcee trying to resume her life as a single woman, and Clara Darden, an artist and fashion illustrator who is trying to establish her reputation as a talented artist in 1920-1930’s New York City. The alternating stories of the two women are hard to put down as each one tries to succeed in a society where women’s achievements are secondary to those of their male counterparts. Virginia begins a job at Grand Central Terminal where she accidentally stumbles upon the area formerly occupied by the Grand Central School of Art. She discovers an old watercolor painting and her interest is aroused about its origins. With her background in art history she begins to research the former art school. Clara is the artist who painted the watercolor. It was the preliminary sketch for her masterpiece, The Siren. Told through the eyes of the two main characters, this story evokes a real sense of place as well as an understanding of the times in which the characters lived. This is a well written, absorbing, and enjoyable novel about relationships, art, ambition, and intrigue! Thank you to First to Read, Dutton, and author Fiona Davis for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this entertaining book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Thacker

    Fiona Davis can pull a reader into that time period unlike anyone else. This book was another good book by her, going back and forth from the 20’s to the 70’s. This is my 3rd book by Fiona Davis. I enjoyed it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The Masterpiece is an enchanting piece of historical fiction and well deserving of all 5 stars! This is my first time reading a novel written by Fiona Davis, but I will definitely not be my last!  My mother is an artist and was an art history professor until she retired, so art has always been a fascinating and beloved part of my life. I immediately knew based on the synopsis that I would thoroughly enjoy this story since thanks to my mother and her passionate love of all things New York and it's The Masterpiece is an enchanting piece of historical fiction and well deserving of all 5 stars! This is my first time reading a novel written by Fiona Davis, but I will definitely not be my last!  My mother is an artist and was an art history professor until she retired, so art has always been a fascinating and beloved part of my life. I immediately knew based on the synopsis that I would thoroughly enjoy this story since thanks to my mother and her passionate love of all things New York and it's unique and extraordinary art history, I already knew of the history surrounding the Grand Central School of Art. However, I never imagined Davis would make me fall in love with this novel by constructing such a stunning literary masterpiece by richly drawing the characters of Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, two strong, intelligent, vibrant women living in entirely different eras looking to make a new start in their lives while using the historic landmark of the Grand Central Terminal and the Grand Central School of Art as the focus of the novel.  The story alternates beautifully between the two women as Davis tells the story of the two women employed at Grand Central Terminal almost fifty years apart. Clara is chasing her dream of becoming an illustrator for Vogue while being the only female teacher at the Grand Central School of Art. She is highly talented, passionate, and ambitious, but art is a male-dominated world in the 1920s. As she chases her dreams, she finds romance, continues to struggle in the male-dominated society even after proving her worth as an artist once Vogue hires her, especially when the Great Depression hits America. Then a terrible tragedy strikes in the early 1930s and Clara is never heard from again.  Virginia, a breast cancer survivor is a newly divorcee in 1974 from her rich, lawyer husband. She's struggling with her new lifestyle, to support herself and her teenage daughter Ruby, and to come to terms with herself post-cancer. Virginia takes a job at Grand Central Terminal as an information-desk clerk and while there, she begins to explore the terminal and discovers the long locked up art school and a mysterious painting that might just answer what happened to Clara Darden. Her finding stirs up questions that the people she turns to for answers will apparently do anything to stop her from discovering. While searching for answers about the painting, Clara, and the art school, Virginia finds out that the terminal, now dirty and in disrepair, is in danger of being destroyed, so she also makes it her mission to help save the historical site. The novel is extremely well-researched and well-written; it truly is like a wondrous masterpiece itself. The characters, even the ones you dislike, are richly detailed and masterfully woven into the novel. The plot is spellbinding and it was as if I had stepped back into both decades with the effortless and passionate way Davis told the story. The two plots converged in an unexpected yet flawless way, and there are appearances by Jackie Onassis, who is fighting to save the terminal that just made the novel that much more special for me...if you know me, you know that I have a Jackie O obsession! Just like fine art, this is a magical and enchanting novel that is historical fiction at its finest. I really cannot recommend The Masterpiece highly enough to lovers of historical fiction since it is a stunning, beautiful read. Davis tells a captivating story that will definitely keep you engrossed as it did me.  **Thank you Edelweiss and Dutton for the ARC copy to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**

  19. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bruno

    LOVED! Full review to come.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan Johnson

    An interesting story centered on the Grand Central Terminal in NYC told from the viewpoint of two different women, 50 years apart. Clara Darden is an instructor at the famed Grand Central Art School in the 1920's struggling to make a career as an illustrator. Virginia Clay is a newly divorced woman in 1974 trying to make a new life with her young adult daughter, Ruby. Clara tries hard to make a success at her art which is difficult as a woman in 1928. She gets a temporary job teaching students An interesting story centered on the Grand Central Terminal in NYC told from the viewpoint of two different women, 50 years apart. Clara Darden is an instructor at the famed Grand Central Art School in the 1920's struggling to make a career as an illustrator. Virginia Clay is a newly divorced woman in 1974 trying to make a new life with her young adult daughter, Ruby. Clara tries hard to make a success at her art which is difficult as a woman in 1928. She gets a temporary job teaching students and calls on magazines and businesses to sell her illustrations. Illustrator and water color painters are looked down upon in the art world but she doesn't give up. She makes friends with a fellow instructor and a male model. She becomes Vogue Magazine first female illustrator and becomes quite successful until the Depression happens. The devastation is horrible. Clara is not the most likable character but she is very real with flaws. Virginia is trying to make a new life after her divorce and gets a job at the Information Booth at the Grand Central Terminal. She falls in love with the building and works to save it from Penn Central who wants to demolish it and build a skyscraper instead. She joins the Jackie Kennedy cause for it's preservation, uncovers a mystery and gets someone their long, overdue rewards. I really liked the history and the voices of two women who are not always likable but struggle to make their way in the world and have their voices heard. This was an enjoyable read that I think is her best yet. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Camille Maio

    Another great read by Fiona Davis, cementing her place in the world of historical fiction. This one illuminated the little-known art school that was housed at Grand Central in the early part of the 20th century and the better-known struggle to save the station from destruction in the 70s. Mix in love, women's issues, and a touch of mystery, and Davis will have another hit on her hands!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tina Woodbury

    For all of my reviews: www.readingbetweenthepagesblog.wordpr... This is a beautifully written story of two women, in two different decades, forging forward despite the ups and downs life has thrown at them. Clara Darden is a very talented illustration teacher at Grand Central School of Art. She loves what she does and the opportunity to inspire others, but in 1928 women instructors are not well received and she is on the verge of losing her job. It is 1974 and newly divorced Virginia Clay has decid For all of my reviews: www.readingbetweenthepagesblog.wordpr... This is a beautifully written story of two women, in two different decades, forging forward despite the ups and downs life has thrown at them. Clara Darden is a very talented illustration teacher at Grand Central School of Art. She loves what she does and the opportunity to inspire others, but in 1928 women instructors are not well received and she is on the verge of losing her job. It is 1974 and newly divorced Virginia Clay has decided it is time to shake things up and she gets a job. She finds employment in the information booth right in the middle of Grand Central Station. Little did she know this decision would set her on a path that would change her life in more ways than one. In 1928 Grand Central Station was just that “Grand”. It is quite the contrast to the 1974 Grand Central Station that has lost some of its shine and can even be dangerous at times. I loved the way Virginia embraced her job in the information booth and in her own way started to bring the station back to its former glory. In this book we have a bit of a historical fiction mystery – which I love! I will refrain from saying too much about that and let the story unfold naturally. We are also welcomed into these two very different women’s lives and are there through their triumphs and challenges. I knew the story would come together and merge these two women, but it was done in a very unexpected way that I had not seen coming. What first drew me to this book is the striking cover! I had yet to read my first Fiona Davis and was thrilled to make this one my first. I look forward to reading many more books by this wonderful author in the future.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    As a New Yorker, I absolutely should have taken this book to Grand Central and taken a better picture that seems much more suitable. I am kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner. However, for the sake of getting my thoughts out to you quicker, this will have to do because we need to talk about this book!! If anyone can make me love historical fiction, it's Fiona Davis. It's no surprise to those who have been following my reviews, that I am slowly becoming a fan of this genre. My first Davi As a New Yorker, I absolutely should have taken this book to Grand Central and taken a better picture that seems much more suitable. I am kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner. However, for the sake of getting my thoughts out to you quicker, this will have to do because we need to talk about this book!! If anyone can make me love historical fiction, it's Fiona Davis. It's no surprise to those who have been following my reviews, that I am slowly becoming a fan of this genre. My first Davis was The Address, which I absolutely adored! Imagine the squeal of delight when I was gifted a copy of this for review. Davis, I'm here for you! I did enjoy The Address slightly more than The Masterpiece, but they are both beautiful reads in their own right. In this novel, we parallel Clara Darden in the 1920s, during prohibition and Virginia Clay, in the 1970s, where women are still struggling to prove themselves beyond a wifely position. Not only do we get a little bit of an artist history from the 1920s, we also get a look into the history of Grand Central Terminal and the fight to keep it a NYC landmark in the 1970s. Admittedly, I enjoyed Virginia's story slightly more because I was fascinated by this history "lesson". Art has never really been my thing, but that didn't diminish my love for Clara's story. Davis has a way of bringing together these women in a way that you wouldn't expect. Some parts reminded me greatly of Mad Men. While each generation and decade have their issues, a standard one that's true even to this day, is a woman having to fight for her place in life. I was just speaking with someone about women lawyers even today having to prove themselves more than men - and this was a man I was speaking to so let's get that clear. 😉 Fiona Davis brings us two extremely strong female characters. She's proving again to be a master in the historical fiction genre and I am here for every last piece of it. Thank you to Dutton Books for this gorgeous copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    There are a few authors that I automatically buy their books without reading a description. Fiona Davis is now firmly on that list! After reading The Dollhouse and The Address, I knew The Masterpiece was going to be amazing and I was not disappointed! This story has a little mystery and romance set amid the glorious Grand Central terminal. Historical fiction lovers, this is a must read!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    A well-written and engaging historical fiction novel centering on a NYC iconic edifice: Grand Central Terminal. Two women, separated by 50 years, are featured in this book. Clara Darden is an illustrationist at Vogue Magazine and also teaches illustration at Grand Central School of Art. Clara is modelled after the real illustrationist Helen Dryden. Virginia Clay is a divorcee with a college age daughter, who in 1974, is struggling to become independent and self-sufficient. She is able to obtain A well-written and engaging historical fiction novel centering on a NYC iconic edifice: Grand Central Terminal. Two women, separated by 50 years, are featured in this book. Clara Darden is an illustrationist at Vogue Magazine and also teaches illustration at Grand Central School of Art. Clara is modelled after the real illustrationist Helen Dryden. Virginia Clay is a divorcee with a college age daughter, who in 1974, is struggling to become independent and self-sufficient. She is able to obtain a job at Grand Central Terminal at the information booth. The two women’s stories are interwoven in a seamless way. And those stories are BOTH captivating. The story of Grand Central Terminal and Penn Central’s fight to raze it and build a 55 story high rise is also explored. I read about Helen Dryden on Wikipedia and noted the similarities between Clara and Helen. I was able to also view Dryden’s Vogue covers. Fiona Davis’ Author’s Note at the end of the book also clarifies what is fact and what is fiction in the story. 5 stars

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sam (Clues and Reviews)

    Last year, I was completely obsessed with The Address by Fiona Davis. I quickly discovered that Davis was a masterful storyteller with the capability to completely entrance her reader. Needless to say, I ran to the bookstore, picked up her other novel (The Dollhouse) and waited patiently for her next publication. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait too long!! The Masterpiece, the newest release by Fiona Davis, was just as brilliant as I expected. Like her other novels, The Masterpiece tells tw Last year, I was completely obsessed with The Address by Fiona Davis. I quickly discovered that Davis was a masterful storyteller with the capability to completely entrance her reader. Needless to say, I ran to the bookstore, picked up her other novel (The Dollhouse) and waited patiently for her next publication. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait too long!! The Masterpiece, the newest release by Fiona Davis, was just as brilliant as I expected. Like her other novels, The Masterpiece tells two linear stories (fifty years apart) where two different women (Clara, an illustrator, and Virginia, a divorcee) try to figure out their place in a male dominated world. I absolutely loved this concept and I found myself completely connecting to both Clara and Virginia. There is such an element of nostalgia to Davis’ work and she has an ability to make me feel like the experiences were my own. Her descriptions, down to the smallest details, are so realistic. It truly feels like you are reading memories. That being said, as much as I loved her writing style and the characters, there was a bit of redundancy that had me distracted towards the middle of the novel. However, this ended very quickly and by the end, I was completely captivated. Overall, I can say with complete confidence that I am pretty much obsessed with the work of Fiona Davis and will anxiously await her next novel. If you are a fan of any sort of historical fiction or a story that builds tension while focusing on character relationships, you will absolutely devour The Masterpiece. I know I did.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie (katieladyreads)

    I ended up really enjoying this one and learning all about Grand Central Terminal! I loved the feminist vibes and the alternating timelines between the late 1920s and the 1970s. While a little predictable/cheesy at points, overall it was well done and I found the ending wrapped it up nicely.

  28. 5 out of 5

    KC

    Grand Central Terminal is one of New York City's most iconic landmarks. Fiona Davis' latest novel weaves together two stories nearly 5 decades apart. From 1928 and the imminent Great Depression to 1974 and the city's deterioration and the impending closure of the terminal, two women and their lives are bound together by one of the most exceptional masterpieces and beloved structures in the world.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

    Thank you so much Kathleen Carter and Dutton Books for providing my free copy of THE MASTERPIECE by Fiona Davis - all opinions are my own. I absolutely adore this book! Davis is an exquisite, talented writer. Set in New York City with the rich history of the Grand Central Station as the backdrop, this dazzling, vibrant story is told in a dual narrative, alternating between the 1920s and 1970s. Twenty-five-year-old Clara Darden is an aspiring artist during the 1920s and Virginia Clay is a recently Thank you so much Kathleen Carter and Dutton Books for providing my free copy of THE MASTERPIECE by Fiona Davis - all opinions are my own. I absolutely adore this book! Davis is an exquisite, talented writer. Set in New York City with the rich history of the Grand Central Station as the backdrop, this dazzling, vibrant story is told in a dual narrative, alternating between the 1920s and 1970s. Twenty-five-year-old Clara Darden is an aspiring artist during the 1920s and Virginia Clay is a recently divorced mother in the 1970s, both working at Grand Central Terminal in different eras and both trying to make their place in the world where the odds are stacked against them. Clara is a very talented artist and works at the Grand Central School of Art as an instructor during an era when the terminal was a gorgeous piece of architecture and the city’s highlight, but one she day vanishes without a trace. Virginia works as a clerk at the terminal’s information desk at the now, run down, soon-to-be demolished train station, but eventually becomes involved in the fight to save the terminal. I was glued to the pages and absolutely loved these characters. This is a dazzling, enchanting story of two incredibly strong female characters, and includes fascinating information about the Grand Central Terminal both during its heyday and during its demise. Ultimately it is filled with mystery and intrigue. And I especially enjoyed all of the historical artistic details and the inner workings of such an amazing landmark. I am always here for stories with not only well drawn out characters but also those where the setting plays a major character as well. I was completely captivated by both eras as the 1920s is so glitzy and glamorous but I also really love the seventies...um David Bowie and fashion. I was engrossed as I read the separate timelines but as the story progressed they converge into one fantastic ending and I fell in love with Davis as an author. THE MASTERPIECE is outstanding and I will definitely read THE ADDRESS next!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heather Fineisen

    A bit of a Hallmark movie flair to this story of a female illustrator in the 1920's paralleled to the saving of Grand Central Terminal in the 1970's. A depiction of strong, independent women in both eras. Throw in an appearance by Jackie O and anything can happen. The author tells of her inspiration in the afterword and although her characters are fictional, Davis brings them to life as well as the historical setting of the narration. A fast and feel good read. Copy provided by the Publisher and A bit of a Hallmark movie flair to this story of a female illustrator in the 1920's paralleled to the saving of Grand Central Terminal in the 1970's. A depiction of strong, independent women in both eras. Throw in an appearance by Jackie O and anything can happen. The author tells of her inspiration in the afterword and although her characters are fictional, Davis brings them to life as well as the historical setting of the narration. A fast and feel good read. Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley

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