Book Review: Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Good morning friends and family. I’m back – maybe not full force with typing skills – but recovering nicely from the carpal tunnel surgery. It has been a strange few weeks, trying to do everything with just my left hand. I now have a new appreciation for these wonderful appendages. I still can’t type for long (it still hurts if over-used) but I wanted to tell you about one of the books I read for a TLC book tour. I also wanted to thank all of you for your kind comments, thoughts, and prayers. I definitely felt all of your good wishes.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland is a beautifully written historical novel. Here is a brief summary:

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.

My thoughts:

I liked reading about the conflict and dilemma Clara faced, especially during this time-period. We all like to think that the struggles for full equality for women began within our own lifetimes. This was a good reminder that this struggle has been going on for a very long time.

The story was also a good reminder of the tussle women experience between their professional lives and their personal lives. During the time period of the story (late 1800s) women were not employed after marriage. I’m sure there were a few exceptions, but Mr. Tiffany had a firm rule on the subject. Thus our protagonist, Clara, had to choose between her desire for love, companionship, motherhood, and her strong desire to express her art.

In addition to the story of Clara’s dilemma, I enjoyed learning about the glassmaking  and New York City at this time. There’s a lot to enjoy in this story – a definite must-read for historical fiction lovers. In the back of the book there’s an interview between the author and her editor I found very interesting. In addition there’s a set of questions and topics for discussion, making this a great book club selection.

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and thanks to TLC Book Tours or including me on this tour. If you’d like to read the other reviews on the tour, the schedule is here:  TLC Book Tours

Clara and Mr. Tiffany was published by Random House, March 2012. My rating: B

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16 Responses to Book Review: Clara and Mr. Tiffany

  1. Barbara says:

    Hi Margot, In my own health problems this year I totally missed that you were having carpal tunnel release. I can empathize with the left hand thing since I did the same thing for weeks. Bummer, huh? So glad you’re back to two-handed life and reading and reviewing.

  2. I’m glad you’re doing well! Don’t stay on the computer long – we want you back to 100%! I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but this sounds like one I’d love.

  3. Staci says:

    It sounds like you’re hand is coming around nicely! I can certainly agree how only having one good hand would make you so grateful for your hands!!

    I loved this author’s other works that I’ve read. I didn’t realize that she had another release. This one sounds just like a book I would enjoy!

    Welcome Back!

  4. Ti says:

    I haven’t read the book but if you have an iPad, maybe you can use text to speech to “write” your reviews. I forget about the option and sometimes when my hands hurt a lot, I think about it. LOL.

  5. JoAnn says:

    It’s good to see you, Margot! I’m so glad the surgery went well, but please try not to overdo it too soon. I read The Girl in Hyacinth Blue by this author years ago and remember enjoying it. Will add this one to my list, too.

  6. Kay says:

    Margot, I echo what everyone has said – so very glad to see you!! Don’t worry about writing too much though. Give yourself plenty of time to recover. We don’t mind a bit. And being a “leftie”, I’d be fine doing all with my left hand – now it’s that right hand that is the problem! LOL

  7. Melissa Mc says:

    I was super pumped when this came out…then it totally fell of my radar. Maybe I should revisit it!
    Welcome back…here’s to being 100% better!

  8. kaye says:

    I’m glad to hear you are recovering nicely. Take it easy and don’t get in a hurry. The book sounds good.

  9. Beth F says:

    Welcome back! As others have said, don’t overdo it — but so glad to hear from you again.

  10. Great to see you typing again! Take it slow.

    The cover of Clara and Mr. Tiffany is stunning. That sounds like a great story.

  11. Belle Wong says:

    I’m just hopping back into the blogosphere myself, Margot. My ergonometric setup at my desk got really messed up and it’s taken this long to get the arm muscles back to normal. So glad to hear your surgery went well and you’re typing again!

  12. Nan says:

    So good to see you back! Did you happen to read my recommendation of the Logitech Marble Mouse? It is quite magical.

  13. kaye says:

    So happy to see you back! Don’t push it though. Take care.

  14. So happy to see you back! Don’t over-do!

  15. Annie says:

    Happy to read you again and to know that all is allright for you now. I like this kind of book : interessant woman story and learning something about art and craft history. Have a nice sunday !

  16. Nice book.Welcome to you for sharing this nice blog..

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