Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Title: Clara and Mr. Tiffany 
Author: Susan Vreeland
Publisher: Random House
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads: "Against the unforgettable backdrop of New York near the turn of the twentieth century, from the Gilded Age world of formal balls and opera to the immigrant poverty of the Lower East Side, bestselling author Susan Vreeland again breathes life into a work of art in this extraordinary novel, which brings a woman once lost in the shadows into vivid color.

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, which he hopes will honor his family business and 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. Publicly unrecognized by Tiffany, Clara conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which he is long remembered.

Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman, which ultimately force her to protest against the company she has worked so hard to cultivate. She also yearns for love and companionship, and is devoted in different ways to five men, including Tiffany, who enforces to a strict policy: he does not hire married women, and any who do marry while under his employ must resign immediately. Eventually, like many women, Clara must decide what makes her happiest—the professional world of her hands or the personal world of her heart"

My Two Cents:

Clara is a woman before her time. The late 1800s, early 1900s were still very much a man's world, however, that world was beginning to go through some . You have to respect her. I found myself cheering her on when she struggles between trying to find love and working a job that she really, truly loves. I also found myself cheering her on when she and the other women working at the Tiffany factory demonstrate for equal rights after the men in the factory try to get Tiffany to fire all the women and only allow the men to do the work. As a women in the work force today, I am thankful for the women like Clara who stood up for women's rights so long ago (Clara is based on a real Clara who worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany).

The other aspect of this novel that I enjoyed is the art of the glass itself. I've had the opportunity to see some of Tiffany's work in my life and it's always stunning. There is so much that went into making those wonderful glass pieces. It's such intricate work. It was really interesting to walk through the process to see how these gorgeous things were made. Apparently Clara has some part in coming up with the infamous Tiffany lamps.

Some parts of the book did move a little slowly and even though the book is broken up in to portions of a couple years, it was still a little hard to follow exactly what year everything happened in.

My review:
3 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

  1. This one does sound interesting, especially from a woman's rights point of view. Like you, I'm glad that women before us stood up and fought for more equality. I can understand why the rest of the novel didn't work for you, though. When I can't place events within a timeline, I get really frustrated. Doesn't need to be chronological or anything, but it would be nice to have more help in order to follow along.


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