Title: The Masterpiece
Author: Fiona Davis
Pages: 384 Pages
Publisher: Dutton Books
In this captivating novel, national 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 most New Yorkers, 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. It is 1928, and Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. Though not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist,” fiery Clara is single-minded in her quest to achieve every creative success—even while juggling the affections of two very different men. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression…and that even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.
By 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Dilapidated and dangerous, 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, 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.
The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis is a multi-narrative story set in two time periods: the 1920s and 1970s New York. The two story threads meet in Grand Central Station which is the ideal setting for bustling Art Deco New York meets down and out New York when homelessness was rife and the glamour had definitely worn off.
In the 1920s storyline we follow Clara, a budding artist who is ignored by the art world because of her gender. However, the tide changes for Clara and success begins to pursue her much to the chagrin of others. In the 1970s storyline we meet Virginia. She is also struggling because of the confines of her gender. Recently divorced with no discernible skills to her name she struggles to carve out a new life for herself as an independent woman without a man to hide behind and to be protected by.
What I really like about Fiona Davis’ novels is that she magically weaves real life historical events into her stories which become a third character. You care about the historical element just as much as you care for the characters and their storylines. Furthermore, it opens the reader’s eyes to a slice of history that they may have never known about otherwise.
The Masterpiece is a wonderful story and one of those novels that you read voraciously because you want to know what happens but try to stop yourself from reading because you don’t want it to end.
The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis is available now.
For more information regarding Fiona Davis (@FionaJDavis) please visit www.fionadavis.net.
For more information regarding Dutton Books (@DuttonBooks) please visit www.duttonbooks.tumblr.com.