Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland – Summary from Amazon:
It’s 1893, and at the Chicago World’s Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows that he hopes will earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division, who conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which Tiffany will long be remembered. Never publicly acknowledged, Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman. She also yearns for love and companionship, and is devoted in different ways to five men, including Tiffany, who enforces a strict policy: He does not employ married women. Ultimately, Clara must decide what makes her happiest—the professional world of her hands or the personal world of her heart.
For many years I’ve looked longingly at Tiffany Lamps, coveted them, but I never really knew much about the history behind them. I was surprised to hear about Clara Driscoll and that it was she who was behind the iconic lamps.
I love how Susan Vreeland took someone as little known as Clara, and with a great deal of research and imagination wrote a beautiful book about her. Not only that, but she paints a picture of how life at the turn of the century was for women and men in New York with plenty of historical detail. There is also quite a lot of detail about the making of the lamps. I found it extremely interesting because it couldn’t have been easy – it’s not like they had the technology like we do today.
The further into the book I read, the more I began to adore the cast of characters. From Mr. Tiffany to Clara and all her friends at the boarding house, the ladies and men she works with, each one is important to the story and Susan brings them to life beautifully – even the minor characters. You can tell they are all meaningful to her. She is one of the foremost writers of historical fiction today.
Many thanks to TLC book tours for sending me a copy to read in exchange for my honest review. And, also for allowing me to offer a copy of the book to one lucky reader of my blog. Here’s how to enter:
Comment on this post with your email address. If you share this post in any way – Twitter, Facebook, on your blog, etc – that will bring you extra entries. Just let me know what you did. If you like my blog on Facebook, that will also give you an extra entry. Contest ends on May 29 and is open to anyone in Canada and the US. Good luck!