Martin's Must-Reads: 'The Masterpiece'

Mar 12, 2019

For most New Yorkers, Grand Central Terminal is not just a train station, but a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. 

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis is an historical novel that takes place in Grand Central Terminal.

The story begins in April of 1928 with Clara Darden, the only female teacher of the Grand Central Art school.  She teaches the technique of illustration, draws illustrations for Vogue and works for Studebaker automobiles helping to design the car interiors and their ads. The story follows her through heartbreak and financial hard times.

The chapters alternate between Clara’s story in 1929 and Virginia Young’s story in 1974. Virginia is hired to work in the Grand Central information booth and discovers that the state of the terminal has declined and that there is a fierce lawsuit surrounding an effort to demolish the Terminal and build a high rise. When Virginia stumbles upon the abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor, her eyes are opened to the Terminal’s elegance and she embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece and save the Terminal.

It’s historical fact that on June 26, 1978, the Supreme Court  ruled 6 - 3 in favor of Grand Central Terminal’s landmark status, guaranteeing that it would never be demolished. The building was restored and rededicated on Oct. 1, 1998. The Grand Central School of Art, opened in 1924 and enrolled as many as nine hundred students a year before closing in 1944.

If you’ve ever looked with awe at the ceiling of the Grand Central Terminal then you must read The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis.