FINE ARTS

The Masterpiece

Dutton. Aug. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9781524742959. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524742966. F
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OrangeReviewStarTwo independent women, living 50 years apart, find themselves working at Grand Central Terminal in New York City. In 1928, the station is home to the Grand Central School of Art, where Clara Darden is the lone female teacher. As a woman artist, Clara struggles against the sexism of the day but finds success as a fashion illustrator for Vogue and an interior designer for Studebaker. As the Depression hits, the art school closes, jobs for artists dry up, and Clara is torn between a quiet poet and a passionate painter. Meanwhile, in 1974, Virginia Clay, a recent divorcée and breast cancer survivor, is forced to find work for the first time in her life. Taking a position at the information booth at the now rundown terminal, she is falling in love with the historic building. When it's marked for demolition and redevelopment, a mysterious painting found in an abandoned studio links the two women.
VERDICT Davis (The Dollhouse; The Address) 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. [See Prepub Alert, 2/19/18.]

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