Review: The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

Alexis:

Hi, everyone! I’m moving into my new apartment tomorrow. I’m really excited, but I’m also already exhausted just thinking about it!

The Masterpiece is the last book I read on the beach. It isn’t my usual read, but it was a great beach read! Overall, this is one of those books that I read and I liked, but it didn’t leave a long-lasting impression.

The book alternates between two timelines. In 1928, Clara Darden is an illustrator teaching at the Grand Central School of Art in New York City. In 1974, Virginia Clay is a recent divorcee and cancer survivor who begins working at the Grand Central Terminal when she finds a painting abandoned in the old art school. 

What I liked: I loved that the story centered around a building. I learned a lot about the history of the Grand Central Terminal. The story focuses a lot on the beauty of the terminal in the 20’s, and how the building has been worn down over the years by the time the 70’s roll around. 

I really enjoyed reading about Clara’s life as a woman struggling to prove herself as an artist. I loved her determined character, and her struggle resonated with me. I also learned a lot about art, especially how illustrators, not to mention women artists, were viewed in the 1920’s. 

What I didn’t like: I wasn’t a huge fan of Virginia’s storyline. I’m not really sure why, but it didn’t resonate with me like Clara’s storyline. 

Clara’s sectionsfocused too much on Oliver, in my opinion, and I wasn’t a fan of his character.

I also found the ending to be melodramatic and not very believable. 

As an aside, my mom also read this book. She loves historical fiction, and she really liked this book. She loved the descriptions and the history of the Grand Central Terminal. 

VERDICT: 3 stars

Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Today I’m introducing a new favorite book! Check out my full spoiler-free review on our blog (link in bio!) My mom read this years ago and tried to get me to read it at the beach, but The Goldfinch is so incredibly detail-heavy that I couldn’t get into it. After reading The Secret History last year, I decided to give The Goldfinch another try.

I’m glad I did! This book is quite a feat to get through, but it’s worth the journey a hundred times over (and it made me miss New York so much!) If you like long and sweeping coming-of-age stories, this is the book for you. Like The Secret History, The Goldfinch is especially drug-heavy and most certainly not any easy read. I knew vaguely it was about art history when I started, but I never imagined the twists and turns this would take, or the impression it would leave!

What I love most about The Goldfinch is our protagonist, Theodore (Theo) Decker. Struck by tragedy in the first chapter (and then again, and again) some would say that he has an incredibly unlucky life. He makes someone bad choices that oftentimes you want to hit him over the head and scream, “What are you doing?” It’s his own difficult life and the messy relationships with the other characters–especially Boris, Pippa, Hobie, and even Popper–that give this book such a spark of life. When it was over, I’d spent so much time getting to know the characters that I didn’t want it to end!

The Goldfinch explores fate, grief and loss, the complexities of friendship, loyalty, and morality, the price of freedom, and the importance of fine art and historical objects of meaning. By the end I felt exhausted, but in the best way.

However, this book is A BRICK, which is why I found it easier to listen to on audio. The narrator did an incredible job making each character sound unique. I never would have been able to imagine Boris’s accent if I’d read this on my own.

VERDICT: 5 books! 

 

Review: Tin Man by Sarah Winman

Alexis: Read 11/28/18

“I said to him that just because you can’t remember, doesn’t mean the past isn’t out there. All those precious moments are still there somewhere.”

This is a poignant story of love and grief. This is a story of first loves, final loves, and dying loves.

Winman’s writing style is gorgeous. It’s simple yet raw and peppered with beautiful descriptions and lyricism. Throughout the book, her lack of quotation marks echoes Ellis’ silent grief.

I love the recurring motifs of the color yellow and Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Nora, Ellis’ mother, is impactful and realistic, and she sticks throughout the story in the minds of both Ellis and Michael as a reminder to stay true to themselves.

Both Ellis and Michael are realistic characters. Ellis deals with his emotions by withdrawing and keeping to himself, while Michael deals with them through writing. Without giving too much away, both of them end up being more similar than either of them thought. Tin Man is an aptly named book.

I love that this book addresses the importance of art and writing, as said by Nora: “Painting flowers as a sign of friendship and welcome. Men and boys should be capable of beautiful things.”

My only criticism is that Annie does not feel as vibrant as all the other characters. I loved her introduction scene, but I wanted to understand her relationship with Ellis as deeply as I understood Ellis and Michael’s relationship.

All in all, this was a beautiful and quietly harrowing read that I highly recommend.

VERDICT: 5 stars