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Publisher's Summary

In this latest captivating novel, New York Times 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 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. 

©2018 Fiona Davis (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“Fiona Davis in The Masterpiece continues a winning formula that showcases the stories behind New York City landmarks...a hard-to-resist and a timely reminder that for far too long the work done by women has been dismissed and disrespected.” (USA Today)

"Fiona Davis achieves a world in which fictional characters and real life seamlessly meld.... The Masterpiece is a beautifully crafted, meticulously researched story." (New York Journal of Books)

“Davis has written another paean to a New York City landmark. Historical fiction fans will love the compelling dual narrators and time periods perfectly captured in this novel based on the history of one of the busiest transportation hubs in the world.” (Library Journal, starred review) 

What listeners say about The Masterpiece

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Loved the story...

I love Fiona Davis novels and this one did not disappoint. For anyone who loves art and history this is a must read. I did not love the narration of this audible though. I found her voice quite nasal like when switching to different characters. Sometimes I felt her intonation was incorrect. Overall though I enjoyed the book very much and would recommend it.

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  • Effie Kammenou
  • 2018-12-13

Fascinating and compelling

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis is a historical novel set in New York City from the 1920s to the 1970s and encompasses separate, but connected stories of two women fighting through unfairness and injustice in order to find their power and sense of pride.

After a mastectomy and a divorce that followed, Virginia Clay finds employment at the information booth in Grand Central Terminal. While exploring, she made an unexpected discovery in an abandoned area within the landmark—a hidden painting. Virginia was desperate to learn the history of the painting and the artist behind it. Equally compelling her was her need to fight for Grand Central Terminal to be saved and retain its landmark status.
Clara Darden was an artist who worked at the Grand Central School of Art, a prominent commercial illustrator and a painter unrecognized for her talent due to her gender. Her life was riddled with lost loves, prejudice and fleeting moments of bliss.
Virginia, in the 1970s, hit many of the same roadblocks Clara came up against in the 1920s and 30s, demonstrating how not much had changed in the way of gender inequality. Both women were at the mercy of the men in their lives, but both persevered in spite of them.
Fiona Davis created a fictionalized story around real-life events and locations. Well researched and beautifully written, the book held my interest from start to finish.
Cassandra Campbell narrated The Masterpiece with her usual skill for storytelling. I’ve listened to many books by this narrator and I knew I would enjoy this one as well. She’s a great talent and has a soothing voice.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Debra Jo
  • 2018-09-10

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.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 2018-10-12

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • VintageJunkie
  • 2018-08-26

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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  • RueRue
  • 2020-08-22

Historic building takes center stage

This is the third book I’ve listened to by this author. She has a formula that seems to inform her books: historic building on the decline, flashbacks between present/near present to that building in its heyday, female characters struggling to establish careers and personal relationships, and a suggestion of a ghost in each. It keeps the pages turning, but the ending is unrealistic and a bit of a letdown. Cassandra Campbell is always a reliable narrator.

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  • Reesie
  • 2020-06-17

the masterpiece

at first I wasnt sure where the story was going. then it just fell into place. good story. and I liked the editors note at the end.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mary Smiroldo
  • 2018-10-29

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.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Teresa
  • 2019-02-10

a favorite historical fiction writer

Fiona Davis has done it again! She has brought me to New York City's Grand Central Terminal and made me feel 1920's life in the Terminal as well as 1970's. I love how she connects two time periods with the surroundings of the city. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical fiction writers!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-01-25

review

loved the book, story and characters .....reader was very good.would def recommend, however i think audible/amazon is ridiculously expensive

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  • Flower Rose
  • 2018-10-07

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!

5 people found this helpful