Dear WomanScape Readers,
Introducing THE MASTERPIECE by Fiona Davis. This is a proud book recommendation that shares two things: our WomanScape love of stories, history and art; and, a powerful story about crashing through gender barriers for women.
Every two months, WomanScape will feature a week-long series devoted to a national or international book written by a female writer. As part of each book selection, we’ll explore related gender issues and creative opportunities for immersive experiences around the plot, characters and historical backdrop to the stories. The goal? To experience the journey.
Exciting stories about related women in history will also provide rich and entertaining insight into many common challenges fought and victories won by women.
Although our featured books are written by women, the shared conversations around subjects in the book should appeal to everyone, regardless of gender.
The hope is to start meaningful conversations and to dive deeper into human experiences.
THE MASTERPIECE is Davis’ third novel following the success of her two previous books, The Dollhouse and The Address.
In THE MASTERPIECE, Davis builds a riveting story of two women whose lives revolve around Grand Central Terminal in the1920s and the 1970’s in New York City.
When we meet Clara Darden, a talented and ambitious illustrator, it is 1928. Clara is the only female teacher at the art school located inside Grand Central Terminal. It’s Clara’s dream to be an artist and illustrator for Vogue magazine but readers quickly see how challenging it will be for Clara to gain acceptance simply because she is a woman.
But brash, confident, and single-minded Clara is determined to explore the creative art process and to succeed in her field. It’s why she is singularly focused and works so tirelessly to make a name for herself.
When we meet the second protagonist in THE MASTERPIECE, it is 1974. Virginia Clay finds herself on the scrapheap of forgotten divorced women, financially struggling to keep her head above water. She is looking to reinvent herself as an independent woman against the backdrop of a New York City in financial distress.
When Virginia discovers the abandoned art school in Grand Central and an unusual watercolor, she embarks on a quest to discover the mystery artist behind the artwork and to save Grand Central Terminal from destruction.
With meticulous research, sparkling prose, compelling characters and an element of mystery, Davis entertains as she enriches readers’ knowledge of bygone eras through a female lens.
THE MASTERPIECE expertly blends fact and fiction, providing an inside look at popular locations in Grand Central, while illustrating how women’s voices and influence changed over time.
Davis’s story reveals the significance of art in our lives and the hidden strength of women determined to change their circumstances and the world they inhabit.
We hope you enjoy THE MASTERPIECE as much as we did. We’ve created lots of entertaining content and related stories around Davis’ masterpiece. Each takes you deeper into the world of Clara and Virginia, and the exciting times of the 20’s and 70’s.
On Thursday and Friday, we’ll share stories about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – a critical advocate for saving Grand Central Terminal. We’ll also post some fun fashion photos and more of Helen Dryden (the historical figure behind Clara’s character) and her stunning Vogue illustrations.
And to help you back to the twenties and women’s liberation movement of the seventies, see our list of popular song lists from 1928 and 1974. You might just want to sip on a delicious Tom Collins drink or enjoy an Oyster Bar Stew recipe. The Collins drink was just the type shared by Virginia and her family at Thanksgiving. The classic stew is a nod to the meal Clara and Virginia enjoyed at Grand Central Terminal.
As we sign off, enjoy this short speaking snippet below. Jacqueline Kennedy is standing outside of the famed Oyster Bar drumming up support for the Committee to Save Grand Central Terminal after the courts ruled it was legal to tear the building down.
Always remember to take time to read great stories like THE MASTERPIECE, and other stories on WomanScape. We hope they help you to consider what matters most on the road to a well-lived life.
Yours in reading and life,