Grand Central Terminal is known today as a New York City icon. But in the 1970s, dilapidated and unsafe, it stood in danger of being torn down. In her third novel, The Masterpiece, Fiona Davis tells the stories of two fictional women whose fates become intertwined with that of the terminal, and their unexpected roles in the fight to save it.
Young, talented and hopeful, artist Clara Darden makes ends meet by teaching illustration classes at the Grand Central School of Art in the late 1920s. Despite sexism and snobbery from her colleagues and the school's director, Clara is determined to make it big. But the Depression and a complicated love triangle both take their toll, leading to Clara's disappearance from the art world. Nearly five decades later, recent divorcée Virginia Clay takes a job at the terminal's information booth. She stumbles upon the long-abandoned art school, and an unsigned painting that may hold clues to Clara Darden's whereabouts.
Davis (The Address) brings two very different eras to life, evoking the terminal's early Jazz Age glamour and its later state of decay. Both protagonists are women forced into independence, who build new lives on their own terms more than once. The terminal is full of colorful characters--Clara's fellow artists, Virginia's coworkers--and is itself a character, a part of the city both dynamic and enduring. Davis's compelling, richly detailed novel will appeal to art aficionados, those who love New York and anyone who relishes a story of reinvention. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams