Book Review of
In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.
For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, 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, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded–even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter–Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.
Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, 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 hidden under the dust, 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.
This is the second book that I read this month that I have mixed feelings about. I loved the writing in this book. The author makes you feel like part of the story. It was descriptive and amazing.
I read this book because I wanted to know more about New York City and Grand Central Station during this time frame. One of the reasons that I read is because I love to learn and this was a time and place I knew nothing about.
I learned a lot about New York City and Grand Central Station both during the depression and during the 1970’s, by reading this book and for that it was worth reading. I hope to find some nonfiction books that cover the same time periods.
This book is about the art world, or at least the art world is a huge part of the book. The art world can be eccentric and a bit odd. Sorry for any artists that might be reading this. 🙂
That eccentric and odd part is where I struggled with this book. I knew it would be there, but it was way more descriptive when it comes to sexual stuff than I realized it would be. At one point, I almost put it down, but I kept going and just skimmed over the paragraphs that covered that. I would definitely say that there are a few paragraphs that I feel could be taken out of this book and it would be just fine. It seems like many modern fiction books add sex and sexual content to sell it. I don’t feel like that makes a great book. Great writing should stand on it’s own. It doesn’t need sex to sell it.
Over all, I loved the story and the writing though in this book, and it is a good fiction book to read if you want to learn about New York.