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“The Masterpiece:” NYC’s Grand Central as One of the Stars

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Today’s radiant Grand Central Terminal belies the nadir of its seventh decade when decay, crime, and overreaching developers threatened its existence. Thanks to the genius of landmark preservationists and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the building was rescued and restored to its original beauty during the 1980s. The iconic Manhattan train terminal – specifically the Grand Central School of Art, part of an artists’ cooperative that was founded in 1924 and occupied much of the sixth floor of the building – is the star of The Masterpiece (Dutton), Fiona Davis’s third novel about New York City.  A romantic thriller about art and architecture, it is set against the unlikely backdrop of two of our nation’s most dispiriting eras:  the Great Depression of the…

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I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Or was it Miss Havisham’s house?

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The time is ripe for backstories and sequels. We can’t get enough of extending a beloved story as far as possible. No, not the latest Hobbit movie, or the long-heralded return of the Star Wars saga in 2015; I’m talking about the perennial draw of literary updates. There are many fraught questions to consider when modernizing a classic: how true will this be to the original when it comes to chronology, voice, incident, and character? Will it be history, future story (sequel), or deeper, contemporaneous story? How much is invented, and are any additions warranted? Is the new interpretation relevant, contemporary, and believable? In sum, is this new version necessary? In my view, it must either add something to the…

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