The Masterpiece

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

The Masterpiece is excellent historical fiction that showcases two separate eras. The novel alternates between Clara’s story in the early 1930’s and Virginia’s story some forty years later in 1974.  Both of these characters are strong women trying to make it on their own during difficult times.
Grand Central Terminal also plays a key role in the novel and I really enjoyed how the author made this landmark come to life for the reader.
Virginia is a newly divorced woman in 1974 New York. When she takes a job at Grand Central Terminal she discovers what remains of a now defunct art school which is where Clara’s story intersects.
I loved how the author portrayed each of these women and how they managed to survive and thrive on their own, even among numerous setbacks.
I enjoyed how the novel alternate between the two eras which created suspense for the reader. The reader is engaged as Virginia learns details about Clara’s story and the art school.
Often when a book has two district stories like this, I find myself enjoying one more than the other. This was not the case with The Masterpiece. I really enjoyed both stories as well as how the author wove them together.
I highly recommend The Masterpiece. A good historical fiction novel draws the reader into the story while educating them
on an aspect in history. The Masterpiece did just that and I came away with knowledge of Grand Central Terminal
as well as what the working environment was for women in the 1930’s and 1970’s.
I received an Advance Review Copy. All opinions are my own.
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The Masterpiece is another wonderful book by one of my favorite authors, Fiona Davis!  Set in the historical Grand Central Terminal this is an incredibly inspirational tale of the fictional Clara Darden’s rise to art acclaim throughout a period of discrimination against women and the financial collapse of our country during the Great Depression.  The history of the terminal is brought to life with Virginia in 1970’s as she struggles to find herself as a newly divorced modern woman and cancer survivor.  I loved this book and would highly recommend it!  I received an ARC, but all opinions are my own.
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The Masterpiece is a captivating, scintillating book, deftly weaving two timelines featuring two very different women, brilliantly coming together at the end of the story in a very surprising manner! Grand Central Station is the main setting of this book, from its glittering heyday in the 1920’s, to the shabbiness of the 1970’s....a glamorous, fascinating place for a story to take place! 
Like a well-written historical fiction novel should do, the author has woven together facts, events, and people of that time with personal stories that are reflective of those times. Clara and Virginia were very interesting heroines, both struggling to find their voices and their place in the world. This is a book that is very hard to put down, so clear your calendar!
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This is my second book by this author in less than 6 months!  I have thoroughly enjoyed how she examines NYC landmarks in tales of historical fiction.  Having recently visited NYC, and Grand Central Station,  I was drawn into the story of how it originally held an art school.  It's a gorgeous building and the author's descriptions took me back.  The part of the story detailing the period of time where it was dirty and dangerous was heartbreaking, but she addressed how it came to be restored.  Of course, the book is not only about Grand Central.  The storylines in each time period were equally interesting and contained strong female characters.  Very good book!
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I really enjoyed The Masterpiece, a historical fiction about Grand Central Station. Told from two women's perspective, years apart, yet with a parallel theme of women finding their voices and self expression. Well researched and interesting! This tale was told with a mix of mystery, friendship, and much art history lover's story. Thank you NetGalley, and the Ninja's for this early reader edition. All opinions are my own.
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After reading this book, I long to see Grand Central Station in its glory days when it was like a cathedral! Beautifully drawn characters, art lore and more! This lush story has love, mystery, tragedy and Grand Central Terminal making it a must read! I received an Advance Reader Copy from Net Galley.
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This book was a step outside my comfort zone, but one I’m very happy to take. The history in this book was so fascinating. I love Grand Central Station, so reading a book that takes place primarily in the station made for an enjoyable reading. I liked that the book was told in two different time periods between two characters, yet the author still found a way to link them. 
I received an advance copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.
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This is wonderfully written historical fiction that I read in one day.  I remember how dreadful Grand Central Station was in the 1970's and the efforts by Jackie Onassis and others to preserve it and return it to its former art deco splendor. Many years later, it was a pleasure to show my granddaughter this historic place. (She loved the whisper wall)  The author did a great job describing the hardships of the Great Depression and how it affected the art school and the artists, particularly the real woman illustrator.
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Thank you, Netgalley, for this arc. I've read Fiona Davis' other books, and all three make historical events come alive in a way that I love. I loved the description of Grand Central Terminal and the art school. There were a few surprises along the way, and what I liked best was the ending - Virginia gained self-confidence by the end of the novel and hers was a happy, unique ending. Fiona Davis is definitely an author I will keep reading!
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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.
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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.
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I received this book courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The release date for the hardback version is August 7, 2018.

This is the second Fiona Davis book I have read, the first being The Address which was about the Dakota, a famous apartment complex in New York City.  The famous New York City setting for The Masterpiece is Grand Central Terminal.  When I requested and then received an early copy of this book, I was a bit apprehensive in that I really wasn’t interested in reading about Grand Central Terminal, however, while it is the backdrop to the story, the main focus of the plot is of two women, Clara and Virginia.

Clara’s story takes place mainly in the late 1920’s leading into the early depression years.  She is a struggling artist/illustrator trying to make it in a man’s world.  Virginia’s story takes place nearly fifty years later in the 1970’s.  She is newly divorced, has just landed herself a job at Grand Central Terminal and like Clara, is still trying to make it in a man’s world even though it is 50 years later.

My apprehension about this story soon faded when I quickly became enthralled in the women’s lives, which the author deftly brought to life.  The book moved along at a quick pace and before I knew it, I was done the book.

Really enjoyed this book and learned some things about New York City and Grand Central Terminal that I did not know.  This was definitely a four star read for me.
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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!
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Virginia is a recent divorcee in the 1970’s with a teenage daughter to look after. So she finds what work she can, which just happens to be in NYC’s Grand Central Terminal at the information booth. The work seems dreary and pathetic until she accidentally stumbles into an old art room in the upper levels of the building, closed off to everyone, which was once home to an art school in the 20s, and has been the home of a hidden painting which may be worth a fortune. She also stumbles into a relationship with a man who is determined to tear down her new place of employment, unable to see its value or historic beauty.
Clara is an artist in the 20s, an illustrator turned teacher who is still seeking passion in art, something ignited by an arrogant fellow teacher and artist, Levon Zakarian. She became the greatest female illustrator of the time, but a desire to create something more, from her soul, is whetted by the fellow teacher and funded by her new wealthy patron boyfriend. Yet history reveals her name left in obscurity following a tragedy. 
Virginia must survive her own personal tragedies, try to help save Grand Central, and uncover the secrets of a great lost painting and artist.

The Masterpiece is a clever historical fiction mystery parallelling two women, one living in the art world of the 20’s and the other fighting to save and restore NYC's Grand Central Terminal in the 70’s. This thrilling, fascinating novel even features a bit of truth in the part played by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to help save one historical New York masterpiece.
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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
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In the 1920's, Grand Central Station housed an art school.  Clara, the only female teacher at the school, began to achieve fame and notoriety, until the Great Depression derailed the art world.   Fifty years later, Virginia, recovering from a divorce, takes a job at the dilapidated, run-down Grand Central Station.  By accident, she discovers the art school, and is enraptured by a painting she founds.  When the painting she finds is linked to one up for auction, painted by the mysterious Clyde, Virginia tries to track down the author of her painting.

This was a quick, easy read.  The back and forth between the characters and timelines worked really well and came together nicely.  Overall, well written.  I look forward to reading more from this author.
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I don’t know where to begin when describing how much I loved The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis! I received this book earlier this summer as an advanced reader copy, and my only regret is that I didn’t start reading it sooner! I really loved how this story reminded me of the intrigue and vivid detail of The Girl You Left Behind, while still feeling fresh and new.

The Masterpiece is a juxtaposition of two women’s stories, one in the late 1920s and one in the mid 1970s, both during difficult financial times in New York City. The earlier story features a female illustrator, Clara, who is teaching at an art school nestled in the top floors of the illustrious Grand Central Station. Fast forward more than fifty years to Virginia, who has not been dealt the best cards following her divorce, and is working at the information desk in a now decrepit Grand Central Station.

I loved how this story shed a light on how challenging it was to be a female artist in the beginning of the twentieth century, as well as the challenges faced by working women in the 1970s. Both characters were women you wanted to rally behind and cheer for, no matter what happened to them.

Another thing I really loved about this book is that you could enjoy being a fan of art, without having to be an expert to catch on to what Davis was writing about. I like to be able to focus on books without having my phone near me when I read, and I didn’t feel like I had to google such-and-such painting by xyz artist to fully get the plot- which I loved!

Having recently stayed at the Hyatt Grand (which has an entrance that feeds directly into the Grand Concourse, read more about NYC here and here) earlier this summer, I loved reading about one of my favorite historical landmarks in New York City. Fiona Davis really brought the location and the time periods to life, and I could picture myself exactly where the characters were standing.

The Masterpiece is out in just two short weeks (August 7, 2018) and you won’t want to miss a great read that everyone will be talking about!

For: lovers of historical fiction juxtaposed with more modern times, readers who love to root for the main characters, and love some accuracy to their fiction, especially when it comes to art or architecture.

Pairs well with: a trip to New York City, either scheduled or something to think back to. Preferably with a stop at Grand Central, or somewhere else to appreciate art deco design (there are PLENTY of options in NYC).

Rating: 5/5 stars
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5— The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
Thank you to @netgalley and @duttonbooks for a free digital advanced copy. 
Virginia Clay is a divorcee who is forced back into the work place to stay afloat. There at Grand Central Terminal, she discovers the abandoned art school that closed due to the Great Depression. While looking around, she finds a watercolor painting that is signed Clyde. On the other side, we meet Clare Darden, a young artist struggling in the 1920s to make a name for herself in the art world. The Masterpiece alternates between the 20s and 70s while we see how these two lives intersect. 
This was my first Fiona Davis and 😳! It was so good. Honestly, I was hooked from the get go and the want to know the outcome was fierce. What happened to Clare? How is the painting found significant? These were questions that get asked and luckily answered— hate unanswered questions in books! The character development was probably my favorite part of the book. Hearing about the lives of two women, but in different times was intriguing. Davis did a wonderful job of showing how these women had to be stubborn and fight for what they believed in due to being women. And the history of GCS was intriguing to read about— it was like an added bonus!
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There is no place like Grand Central Station. Its majestic beauty shines through the crowds to reveal decades past. Millions of people quickly coming and going in the heartbeat of the greatest city on earth. Clara Darden is a young artist, struggling to make her way in 1928 as a teacher at the Grand Central School of Art. She is a beautiful, confident illustrator fighting for her place in a man’s world. Finally attaining success, Clara has made a name for herself juggling her wealthy, handsome boyfriend and fellow artists despite the looming Depression. After tragedy strikes, Clara disappears as if she never existed at all. Almost Fifty Years later, in 1974, Virginia is taunted by her chauvinistic lawyer husband who left her with little money and lots of sadness. Having been a homemaker for most of her adult life, Virginia scrambles to find work through a temp agency. She accepts a job in the information booth at Grand Central. Even though the terminal is now covered with dirt and not so shiny, Virginia is immediately enamored by its history. As she begins to explore her future as a single woman once again, she discovers a painting hidden on the upper levels of the terminal that had been abandoned decades ago. The mysterious unsigned painting greatly resembles one that is currently up for auction. With Virginia’s flourishing confidence and new station friends, she is determined to solve this mystery. Author Fiona Davis has done it again. A thoroughly enjoyable work of historical fiction based in NYC capturing the imagination through time and art. Highly recommend The Masterpiece for a fabulous summer read!
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An interesting book set in Grand Central Station in New York City. It covers the lives of two women: Clara Darden, a struggling artist who works at the Grand Central School of Art in the 1920's, and Virginia Clay, a divorcee who starts work at Grand Central Station in the 1970's and who becomes involved in the fight to save the station from demolition and find out what happened to the mysterious artist, Clara Darden. Both time periods were interesting with events and facts that I had not known before. Sometimes I will find one time period or protagonist more compelling in a dual timeline novel, but I enjoyed reading about both women and their lives and struggles.
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