Mel (Epic Reading)'s Reviews > The Masterpiece

The Masterpiece by Fiona  Davis
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really liked it
bookshelves: arc-netgalley, library-ebook

It should be known up-front that I'm a big fan of Fiona Davis'. Her writing, characters and choice of historical settings are always superb. As with most of Davis' historical fiction there are two women in two separate timelines that eventually come together. You might think that perhaps this choice of set-up in historical fiction would eventually feel overused or loose it's magic as it's been used to death; but for me it's the perfect way to relate a story.

Setting
I seem to always have an affinity for the oldest timeline and characters in any given historical novel. Perhaps because they seem more intriguing, magical or unpredictable? Whatever the reason, The Masterpiece was no exception to the rule for me. Both timelines keep the primary location of the Grand Central Terminal in New York; and yet one is about how gorgeous, vibrant and art filled the station is; while the other is set during a time when they nearly took the whole train station down! I didn't know that Grand Central nearly didn't survive decades ago from being demolished; and so this historical tidbit was great to learn about.

Characters
As always Davis has characters that are realistic and relatable. Whether it's our divorcee fighting to stay alive in (relatively) modern day (1974ish) or the aspiring artist in 1929 who everyone walks all over because she is a woman; Davis makes me feel like these are real women. At one point nearing the end of the story I was beside myself when I realized that there might not be a happy ending here! Inspiring emotion for the people in the story is key to a historical novel being successful and Davis does it masterfully in The Masterpiece.

Plot
There's a lot going on in here. We have intrigue and mystery in both timelines; and of course it all comes together beautifully in the end to tie our two ladies together. I don't to say too much, as I don't want to give any good tidbits away; but if you enjoy the unraveling of a history and finding out about people's dirty little secrets then I think you'll be on board for this plot.
Unfortunately The Masterpiece falls to a four star book (from five) for me because of it's ending. There is a bit too much that just 'happens' for no real reason and so I put this book down feeling a little cheated at the contrived ending.

Overall
Regardless of if the ending is to my liking I still really enjoyed this story and would certainly consider revisiting it in the future. Davis gives us strong women who persevere even when the odds are stacked against them. I was able to relate to these women and even reflect a little on my daily life and realize that it could always be worse. Each day I read this during my commute to work (on the bus), at lunchtime or at home I felt like I was being subtly reminded that any one of our lead women could have been me. And that made me thankful to live when and where I do.
Any book that is able to so strongly connect with me is worthy of a recommendation and a place on my print shelf (the highest honour I can give). While not a perfect five-star read; The Masterpiece is still more than worthy of a dive into the art and magic of a train station.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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Reading Progress

March 26, 2018 – Shelved
March 26, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
January 10, 2019 – Shelved as: arc-netgalley
May 23, 2019 – Started Reading
May 23, 2019 – Shelved as: library-ebook
May 23, 2019 – Shelved as: up-next
May 23, 2019 –
1.0% "I loved Fiona’s previous two books. So I have high expectations for this one."
May 23, 2019 – Shelved as: up-next
June 19, 2019 –
2.0% "Hoping for beautiful historical literature from this one. The Address was wonderful so my confidence is high."
June 24, 2019 –
5.0% "Okay I’m finally for real starting this and not just putting it on my currently reading list without actually reading more than the intro. 😉"
June 24, 2019 –
23.0% "Fiona Davis has a magical narrative voice. She always makes me feel like I am the women in her story fighting hard to stay afloat. It’s just wonderful to read about strong women of the past. Makes looking at the challenges in my own life a little easier."
June 24, 2019 –
37.0% "As always I love the older past story more than the closer to current day one (in this case we are in 1929 and 1974 or so)."
June 25, 2019 –
47.0% "What it is about these types of books that I always find a lull at 45(ish)%? It’s clearly me and not every historical book I read.
Still trucking along; just lost a bit of a spark. Hopefully it comes back."
June 26, 2019 –
61.0% "Oh parents and their need for their children to be the ‘best’. Whatever best night me."
June 29, 2019 –
70.0% "Oh no! Fiona Davis has me all worried she’s going to screw over a lovely lady. This story is so well done it feels like history to me and I’m worried for the fictional characters. Love it!"
June 29, 2019 – Finished Reading

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