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Publisher's Summary

In her latest captivating novel, nationally best-selling author Fiona Davis takes listeners into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, 50 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 25-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 50 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.

©2018 Fiona Davis (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

If you want a novel that has everything...

This novel left me with a thirst for knowledge. I have never really been curious about Grand Central or Art in all honesty, but I was left so intrigued by what I've learned here. This story was concluded perfectly but I desire more information. I don't give 5 star ratings often, but when I do, its because a novel has stuck with me or opened my mind to learn more. This novel has done both.
I am not a huge Historical Fiction fan; however, this is the second book by Fiona Davis that I have read and fell in love with. I love reading stories set in two different time frames, with several different characters meeting in some way at the end. The reveals are amazing. I was blindsided near the end.

This novel has everything, History, Mystery, Romance, Heartbreak, and Culture.

I would recommend this book to everyone. There is something for literally everyone to fall in love with.

I would also like to point out that this novel has several strong women protagonists and expresses the women's rights and movements without becoming overpowering.

Fiona Davis is one of those authors that I will read anything she writes without even knowing anything about the book. She is just that amazing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Excellent historical details!

I keep listening to Davis' books as they come out on audio, despite my "it's ok, 2-star ratings" because of the detailed history of these various landmark buildings, which she writes about so very well. The storyline is always interesting, and I keep listening. I'm not sure why I always land on two stars. I suppose for some reason I never quite emotionally connect with the main characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Genie
  • CANDLER, NC, United States
  • 08-19-18

Disappointing

This was not as good as her first book about the Dakota House, which included more historical information. Instead, this one focused on too much romance, heartbreak, and drama. The plot was also rather implausible.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Somewhat entertaining

Having recently read/listened to The Rules of Civility, I thought I'd really enjoy this. I had a hard time liking any of the characters and the narrator didn't help. I actually liked the last quarter of the book better than the first three quarters but I would jump to recommend it.

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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring!

Finally stopped listening with 3 long, boring hours to go. I kept waiting for something to happen, but it just droned on and on. Cassandra Campbell is a highly rated narrator, but I have never understood why. She has a sing- song voice that I find unbearable irritating. Her voice combined with a terribly boring story....it’s unbelievable that I lasted so long.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Engaging plot, sympathetic characters, gently feminist themes

Part historical fiction and part mystery set in both the late 1920’s and 1970’s in NYC that will appeal to readers who enjoy art, female characters required by circumstances beyond their control to recognize their own strength, and stories with two story lines that converge late in the novel. Held my interest throughout.

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Love this book!

I’ve read all of Fiona Davis’ books... she has such a gift for bringing the past to life and illustrating how the lives of women past and present can share such universal experiences. And as a former New Yorker myself, it’s such fun to be immersed in the city’s landmarks in such a lively way. If you haven’t read The Dollhouse or The Address I highly recommend those too!

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    4 out of 5 stars

Art from the past to the present

Loved the story of artists their talent and their struggles in the early 20 th century. With the war and homeless people. Very humble to know the struggles that my parents in the 40s had when my dad went to war.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Another Excellent Story

I really enjoy Fiona Davis’ work. I like the split timelines and the focus on famous landmarks in NYC. Very cool. “The Masterpiece” wasn’t as compelling as “The Dollhouse” or “The Address” but I definitely enjoyed it. I do enjoy flawed characters and I think Davis excels at that. I did feel like Clara deserved a better man—she has rotten luck in love. Virginia is an interesting character and I was happy with her resolution.

I always look forward to Davis’s books, and can’t wait to see what she does next.

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5 stars again!

Another masterful story of historical fact and compelling fiction by Fiona Davis delivered evocatively by Cassandra Campbell!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • S. Jones
  • 09-07-18

Another lovely historical NY tale from Fiona Davis

I’m a fan of Fiona Davis’ historical novels and seem to choose to listen to them on audio. Always enjoy the dual timescales of her books and the strong female characters who are usually facing up to their problems’. Really enjoyed learning about the art world and the history of Grand Central station. Plenty of twists in the tale along the way too.

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  • Hiro
  • 08-29-18

‘The Masterpiece’ by Fiona Davis

When I found this is a historical fiction about Grand Central School of Art founded by John Singer Sargent in the 20s, I immediately decided to download from Audible. The reader is my favourite Cassandra Campbell. That helps.

The author adapted a well-trodden dual timeline format. And I think it works very well here.

The story itself is fascinating, very clever mixture of the fictional and the real.
Although some subplots are too contrived, I enjoyed the book. As usual, it’s read brilliantly.