The Masterpiece

The Masterpiece

by Fiona Davis


$13.18 $16.00 Save 18% Current price is $13.18, Original price is $16. You Save 18%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, October 17


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524742973
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/09/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 23,942
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of The Dollhouse, The Address, and The Masterpiece. She lives in New York City and is a graduate of the College of William & Mary in Virginia and the Columbia Journalism School.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Excerpted from "The Masterpiece"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Fiona Davis.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Masterpiece 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read Fiona Davis’s other books and preordered this one. I love how she takes a historical place and creates a story for two different points in time. Her characters are appealing, her writing flows and just like The Address and The Dollhouse, I couldn’t stop reading The Masterpiece. I highly recommend her books and can’t wait for the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the history behind the story. The story of incredibly strong women was the icing on the cake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read Fiona Davis' other books and have enjoyed them. She uses an historical building and weaves a story. This book is about Grand Central Station. The story and historical facts were well done. I want to visit Grand Central and find out more about it .
Kristin975 11 months ago
This is the first book I've read by Fiona Davis, and I loved it. The novel flips back and forth between 1929 and 1974 and revolves around the Grand Central Terminal in New York City and the art school that used to be inside. In 1928, Clara is an up-and-coming art student turned part-time art teacher who is trying to break into the male-dominated art world with her illustrations. In 1974, Virginia's life has fallen apart and she ends up finding a job in the terminal, where she meets some interesting characters and finds a lost piece of art. When Virginia decides to search to find out who the true artist of the painting is, she goes on a journey that leads her to a surprising ending to the story. Such a good book!
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars rounded up to 5. I very much enjoyed The Address by Fiona Davis and was looking forward to this book. She is a masterful storyteller with the ability to completely transport her readers into a different world. The Masterpiece is another wonderful story, but I did not connect to the characters as well as I did in her previous book. Saying that, I still enjoyed this story quite a bit and felt for both Clara and Virginia. The Masterpiece tells the story of two women, who both work at Grand Central Terminal, fifty years apart. Clara is an illustrator, who is teaching at the art school housed at Grand Central. She is not considered an artist, but she has more talent than some of the male teachers and artists. Virginia is a recent divorcee and single mother, who is trying to support herself and her daughter. She is working in the information book at the Terminal. Both of these women are trying to find their way in a world dominated by men. I absolutely loved this storyline, and doing it all within the confines of Grand Central Terminal was very interesting. There was so much going on in the story that I was not familiar with, and the story was so realistic that I felt like I was there. I loved the inclusion of Jackie Onassis trying to save the Landmark status of the terminal. Her descriptions, down to the smallest details, are so realistic. It truly feels like you are reading memories. I love the way she is able to blend the lives of these two women so well adding in art history, romance, intrigue, scandal, and drama. Throw in some amazing secondary characters and it is hard to put this book down. I listened to the audiobook of this story and it was amazing. She did a great job of sharing this story without worrying about voices, she told the story to me. Overall, I loved this story. It is important that you read the Author's Notes at the back of the book as she gives information about her research, what parts of the book are real and which fiction, and what and who the characters are based on. If you are a fan of of historical fiction and books that are character driven, then you need to pick up The Masterpiece, or any books by Fiona Davis.
18876111 More than 1 year ago
The story definitely matches the title. This book is a masterpiece. There are two different character storylines and two different time periods. One storyline starts in 1928 New York, during prohibition, the other starts in 1974, and eventually, the two storylines come together. Fiona Davis is brilliant when it comes to writing stories set in two different time periods that flow extremely well and blend together seamlessly. I can't wait to see what's coming next.
Book_and_recipe_Examiner More than 1 year ago
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 paralleling 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.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis is a dual timeline novel. It is April in 1928 in New York City where Clara Darden works as an illustration teacher at Grand Central School of Art. She is the only female faculty member and looked down upon because she is woman and an illustrator. After being taken under the wing of Oliver Smith, a poet and Levon Zakarian, a brash artist, Clara’s star starts to rise. Clara becomes the go-to illustrator for Vogue and she even designs a car. But looming on the horizon is the great depression and a horrible accident. Virginia Clay has been divorced almost a year and is forced to get a job in 1974 New York. After being unsuccessful as lawyer’s secretary, Virginia is assigned to the information booth at Grand Central Terminal. The building has deteriorated over the years and now there is a lawsuit to demolish the historical landmark to pave the way for a skyscraper. Virginia gets lost one day and stumbles into the area that once belonged to the Grand Central School of Art. She spies a beautiful painting hidden behind a cabinet in the storage room after an unexpected encounter. Virginia is drawn to the work of art and decides to take it with her. Little does she know that this one act will propel her into a mystery that goes back to 1928 and will include threatening letters. I found The Masterpiece to be an engaging story. It is well-written and has steady pacing. The POV switches between Clara and Virginia as the tale unfolds. The transitions were smooth, and it was easy to keep track of the various characters. Fiona Davis is a descriptive writer which brings the book alive. I could picture Grand Central Terminal in my mind along with New York from Ms. Davis’ word imagery. I cannot believe that people wanted to demolish this architectural masterpiece. I felt she captured the time-periods with the language, clothing, the lifestyles and attitudes. I could tell that the author did her research and it was interesting to learn the history of the Grand Central Terminal. Ms. Davis created realistic characters that fit into their time periods. I preferred Clara over Virginia. I loved the descriptions of Clara’s artwork and how she evolved as an artist. I liked that Virginia cared for Grand Central Terminal and was willing to do what was needed to help save the building. The mystery was clever, and readers will be surprised at the reveal. Fiona Davis crafted a historical novel with a complex plot that will capture readers attention and hold it until the very end. The Masterpiece is my favorite novel by Fiona Davis and it is one of the best books I have read in quite some time.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
The world of art in the 1930s was that of a rapidly changing scene, where “traditional” was evolving into “experimental,” where impressionism was turning to modern art. At the same time, artists were starving as the Depression was approaching and when there is no food, there is no money to buy or even admire art, as art shows cost money to sponsor. This is the story of Grand Central Station or Terminal in its glorious early and later recovery days. Clara is a young divorced woman, who is teaching a course on illustration art in the Grand Central School of Art. She is just hanging on to her position, as being an illustrator is not greatly respected. To some, it’s not even art! But forge on she does! Add to that the fact that she’s a woman and you’ve got the entire nasty picture. However, she and her bohemian, endearing friends console and strengthen each other, fall in and out of love together, and do all they can to make sure each is compelled to do their best artistic work possible. They’re an odd but motley, lovable bunch of characters who immediately and forever engage the reader to want to share their world. Fifty years later, Virginia Clay is working at the Grand Central Station Information Booth. She’s also divorced and unable to find any other job as she’s totally unskilled for any other job. She’s a breast cancer survivor as well, her self-image blasted after that experience. Her life is about to dramatically change after she accidentally discovers some abandoned art works from the Grand Central School of Art. She will discover one work of art that has a mystery and crime behind it which she and her daughter will relentlessly pursue to a nail-biting end. The Masterpiece… will thrill the soul of every reader as we get to experience the style, textures, tones, and colors of various styles of art as well as the minds, hearts and souls of the artists who created such notable works of art. It is light but gorgeous, thrilling reading which this reviewer highly, highly recommends! Loved it so!!! Keep writing, Fiona Davis!!! Your writing is highly creative, skilled, complex and simple at the same time! Admirable!
AnnaDee More than 1 year ago
The stories of two women, Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, are used as the tie that somehow binds them to the history of New York's Grand Central Terminal. Clara is a young artist who teaches in the Grand Central Art Studio of the 1920's. Virginia is a divorce' in the 1970's, who suddenly finds herself in need of a job and becomes an attendant in Grand Central's information booth. Clara's story is that of a growing artist, from designing magazine illustrations to painting portraits in oils. One of her portraits, The Siren, is left in the studio in the '20's and is discovered by Virginia in the '70's. The women's stories are told in alternating chapters, involving various love interests and, in Virginia's life, a teenage daughter. The history of Grand Central is interestingly woven into the story, relative to Virginia's job there. Included are commentary about the lawsuit to accomplish its demise and the efforts of those, including Jackie Onassis, to see it preserved as a historic landmark. I found Clara's story to be more believable and compelling than Virginia's, perhaps because Clara' was actually an artist who taught at the studio in the 20's. Virginia's actions and dialogue with both her husband and her lover Dennis are somewhat shallow and unrealistic. Parts of The Masterpiece move smoothly and interestingly. Other parts are slower and not altogether seamless. It takes a lot of weaving to pull the story together. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review.
LeslieLindsay More than 1 year ago
Gorgeous book inside and out (total cover crush!) about blazingly unique--and strong--woman separated by two different time periods and combining art, history, and memory, NYC, and a bit of woman's lib meets romance. , Fiona Davis has wow-ed me once again with THE MASTERPIECE (Dutton/Penguin/Random House August 7 2018), which I feel is exactly that--her best yet, in my opinion. What she excels at is so apparent: her meticulous research makes for a rich reading experience; plus dazzling prose, an element of mystery, and quite intriguing characters. It's 1928 and Clara Darden is a single woman artist living in NYC and teaching at the little-known Grand Central School of Art (which existed between 1924-1944 at the Grand Central Terminal). Clara is an up-and-coming illustrator but many of her contemporaries don't consider illustrations 'real art.' But it's her dream. She wants to create art for the cover of Vogue and yet she's not sure if she can break in. And then there's the Depression. But little will keep her from her dream. Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, another woman, Virginia, is met with a new challenge. Newly divorced and having lost her prestigious Upper East Side status, she and her 19-year old daughter, Ruby are struggling to make ends meet. Virginia takes a job at the dangerous and unsavory Grand Central Terminal in the information booth. It's a landmark building and the bones are gorgeous--if only it could be spiffed up. Then, Virginia learns the building's very existence is threatened as developers want to construct a skyscraper in its place. These two plots braid together in a sweeping narrative I found fully transportive. I loved Davis's prose, the blend of art, history, and fact and fiction. But also the strength and tenacity of women over the years. I'll admit to not fully warming to Clara's character, but that didn't take away the way I felt about the overall execution. A few plot points felt a little 'convenient,' but tension, intrigue, and set-up left the final 'twist' wholly inevitable. THE MASTERPIECE simply glittered and had me thinking about the role of art in challenging times, talking about the book with my family, and thinking about how woman have shaped the world.
gaele More than 1 year ago
The year is 1974 and Virginia Clay, recently divorced and looking to find a foothold in New York that will allow her to support herself and her daughter, she’s brought in to work in the information desk at the Grand Central Terminal by a temp agency. There to provide answers while seeing the grime, decline and less-than-savory aspects of this once grand edifice, she’s captivated by the potential of what was, even as the building is on a list of soon to be demolished properties in the name of progress. But, she uncovers a lovely watercolor as she’s discovering the history of the terminal, simply signed Clyde, Virginia decides she wants to know more about this hidden gem high in the building, and just what other treasures may be uncovered here. In 1928, a twenty-eight year old illustrator and artist, Clara Darden is teaching at the Grand Central School of Art. Talented and determined, she is constantly faced with the prejudice against her sex, and the public disdain for “lady artists” that came with a whole slew of pejoratives and assumptions about one’s personal moral code. Perhaps some were fitting, as Clara is single-mindedly determined to pursue her art, while never ignoring her own personal life: two suitors. Bohemian and oft scandalous friends, and a struggle with the turn of fortunes brought on by the depression will really push her determination to succeed to the edge. Alternate perspectives, both intriguing in their own right - the juxtaposition of the Terminal and it’s condition, from beloved and central meeting point in the 20’s to decrepit and awaiting the wrecking ball in the 70’s, it’s easy to imagine the space and the life within. But, while I loved the stories of both Clara and Virginia, neither really demanded my attention or connected in ways that gave them life - Clara was easy to understand and empathize with her challenges, while Virginia’s personality was subjugated to the search for this Clyde and her discoveries, but never once did I feel the ‘need’ that she had to look further, or deeper. Historically, the story was laden with information and atmosphere, and not having known of the Grand Central School of Art before, it was a clever and quite engaging introduction that encouraged me to look further at the artists passing through its doors. I don’t know if it was the sense that a building superseded the need for characters, or I wanted more empathy and connection to them, but the story became, for me, more about the history and changes than the characters who revealed them. I received an eARC copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Katie__B More than 1 year ago
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.
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
This novel follows two women, Virginia and Clara. Both are amazing! Clara is a young woman in the 1920’s. She becomes a famous illustrator…in the 1920’s, an awesome feat! Virginia is learning to be a divorced, single mom in the 1970’s. When Virginia discovers the abandoned art school in Grand Central Terminal, it leads her on a path unlike any other. Clara and Virginia both are unique women determined to make their way in this world. They both struggle to make a go at it. Clara trying to be an artist/illustrator. And Virginia is just trying to survive after her marriage has fallen apart. I loved both of these characters, especially Clara. Or maybe I just enjoyed her time period better. Y’all! This book!!! This book is super! It grabs you from the first word and never lets you go! The history is abundant and the mystery surrounding Clara is completely captivating. This novel is inundated with rich details of the Grand Central Terminal. Makes me want to go back and explore. This story is superbly written and well researched. I fell in love with the characters and the setting. I could go on and on…riveting, captivating…but you get the idea! I received this novel from the publisher via Netgalley.
wjane More than 1 year ago
The Masterpiece is another exceptional Work of Historical Fiction by Fiona Davis, I loved the two well researched historical time periods of the 1920’s and 1970’s. Ms. Davis always mixes history, mystery, suspense and just a little romance in her unshakable women’s lives. Her characters no matter what the adversity, they face what comes and stand firm. The art and architecture storylines were also educational and enjoyable. I recommend this title as well as The Dollhouse and The Address all are excellent. I look forward to reading more books by Fiona Davis. My thanks to the author and Penguin for a making this book available for me to read and review.
teachlz More than 1 year ago
ERPIECE” BY FIONA DAVIS Penguin Group/ Dutton Publishing August 2018 Bravo to Fiona Davis , Author of “The Masterpiece” for writing an amazing, captivating, intense, riveting, entertaining and enthralling novel. I love everything about “The Masterpiece.” I appreciate the historical research that the author has done. Fiona Davis is a creative force when it comes to writing and describing the vivid images and colorful characters, combining fiction and historical fiction. The Genres of this novel are Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery with a dash of Romance. The spotlight and center of interest in the story is The Grand Central Station Terminal in New York City. There are two timelines, with different characters that depict the historical and fictional events. Part of the history in The Grand Central Station is the former ART school, where famous artists worked on their creative inspirations. There also was a ritzy apartment, that later housed a famed bar. In 1928, Clara Dane is teaching Art in the Grand Central Station School of Art. Clara’s strength is illustrations. Unfortunately women were not treated in equal measures to the men. Women Artists were looked down upon. Clara was not treated fairly. Clara’s claim to fame is that her illustrations land on the cover of Vogue Magazine. When the Great Depression occurs, it forces the owners to close down the Art School. Clara has two men that play a significant part in her life. Clara also dabbles in other forms of Art. With the Depression, things change. Fifty years late, in 1978 the Grand Central Station Terminal is in much need of a Facelift. Things are dirty, and there are homeless people as well as people dealing drugs hanging around. Virginia Clay, a divorced mom with a young daughter needs a job. Virginia finds employment working in the information booth in the terminal. When Virginia is wandering around, she finds the location of the old art school. Virginia also finds a gorgeous painting, actually a masterpiece. Virginia is determined to find out who the painter is. As Virginia investigates, she finds that she in possibly in danger. Sadly there is a discussion of tearing down the Grand Central Station Terminal. Led by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, there is a group trying to preserve the history and integrity of this landmark. I love when the past and present merge. There are some Uh- Oh moments, and twist and turns. I highly recommend this fantastic intriguing novel , especially for those that enjoy Historical Fiction. I received an ARC from NetGalley to read and review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago