At what will surely be a sold-out luncheon at Giuseppe’s Ritrovo with nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis, guests will meet and hear from the author about her latest novel, The Masterpiece (August 7, Dutton/PRH), which draws 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. A limited number of tickets at $45 a person will include the lunch and Davis’s novel, which she will sign after her talk.
The Grand Central School of Art, founded by the painters Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark, and John Singer Sargent, opened in 1924 and enrolled as many as 900 students a year before closing in 1944. The Masterpiece begins in 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded school. 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 once luminous terminal is full of grime and danger, and its very existence is threatened as developers seek to reverse its landmark status and construct a skyscraper in its place. The fight to save the building, led by the inimitable Jackie Kennedy Onassis, informs the story of Virginia Clay, a former socialite fallen on hard times who’s forced to take a job in the information booth as a last resort. 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.
National bestseller Fiona Davis has established herself as a master of crafting captivating novels about historical New York City. In her fiction, readers are introduced to iconic New York City landmarks (The Barbizon Hotel for Women in her debut novel, The Dollhouse, and The Dakota in her second novel, The Address), through the eyes of women whose lives were transformed by their experiences within the institutions. With meticulous research, dazzling prose, intriguing characters, and an element of mystery, Davis entertains as she enriches readers’ knowledge of bygone eras through a female lens. Davis lives in New York City and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Tickets are $45.00 per person through Eventbrite. The ticket includes lunch with Fiona Davis at Giuseppe's Ritrovo, a copy of The Masterpiece, Davis' book talk and signing.