Clara and Mr. Tiffany: Book summary and reviews of Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

A Novel

by Susan Vreeland

Clara and Mr. Tiffany
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2011
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[Vreeland's] preoccupation with the larger historical story comes at the expense of Clara, whose arc, while considered and nicely told, reflects the times too closely in its standard-issue 'woman behind the man' scenario." - Publishers Weekly

"[Vreeland's] descriptions highlight the craftsmanship behind the timeless beauty of Tiffany's glass, and the true story of Clara Driscoll's life serves as a colorful canvas. Recommended for historical fiction readers; likely to become a favorite on the book club circuit." - Library Journal

"A novel that reads like a labor of love. Unfortunately, the labor is as evident as the love." - Kirkus

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Reader Reviews

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Dorothy T.

As Lovely as a Tiffany Lamp
The author has achieved a good balance of fiction and history with lots of detail about the beautiful Tiffany lamps and windows and New York City and the people at the turn of the 20th century. This was a real joy to read and had me searching the internet to see the pieces described being created.

Ellie

confirmed my criteria, education,enjoyment and character
I always love Ms. Vreeland's in depth novels about artists that I appreciate. Love that I am Appreciating the "history" beneath the art but. sometimes feel that they are a little slow to read. Have to admit, I have read every one of her books and will continue doing so.

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Author Information

Susan Vreeland Author Biography

In her own words ....

Coming out of the Louvre for the first time in 1971, dizzy with new love, I stood on Pont Neuf and made a pledge to myself that the art of this newly discovered world in the Old World would be my life companion. Never had history been more vibrant, its voices more resonating, its images more gripping. On this first trip to Europe, I felt myself a pilgrim: To me, even secular places such as museums and ruins were imbued with the sacred. Painting, sculpture, architecture, music, religious and social history--I was swept away with all of it, wanting to read more, to learn languages, to fill my mind with rich, glorious, long-established culture wrought by human desire, daring, and faith. I wanted to keep a Gothic cathedral alive in my ...

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