Announcing our Top 20 Books of 2022 and Award Winners

BookBrowse Reviews Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Tiffany Blues

A Novel

by M.J. Rose

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose X
Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2018, 336 pages

    Jun 2019, 336 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book



M. J. Rose brings a historical bildungsroman into glorious technicolor as a damaged young artist learns life lessons from the great Louis Comfort Tiffany, of stained glass fame.

I admit it. I'm an M. J. Rose fan. But this time I believe she has outdone herself.

Set in the United States post World War I, 24-year-old Jenny Bell is a starving art student. Art has given her the strength to rise above the ashes of a decidedly dreadful life, move to New York City and attend the prestigious Art Students League. Living in a hovel and waiting tables in a Greenwich Village tea room in order to afford tuition and paints, she is a conflicted loner torn between needing anonymity and seeking fortune via her paintings. Her dream is to study in Paris.

Another young woman shares Jenny's dream of studying there. Minx Deering, the overprivileged daughter of a ridiculously wealthy industrialist, is a classmate whose work Jenny admires. They become friends. Polar opposites, they support each other in all the right ways. Minx is daring, joyous, extravagant, promiscuous, outgoing to a fault and generous. She coaxes Jenny to move into her apartment. She is the steadying influence on Minx that Mr. and Mrs. Deering appreciate.

Minx loans Jenny clothes, introduces her to wealthy and connected friends and encourages her to be more assertive. When a chance to sell her drawings to a newspaper as a courtroom sketch artist presents itself, offering Jenny more money-per-drawing than she makes in a week waiting tables, the timid artist demurs. A dark secret prevents her from trusting reporters and legal authorities.

Minx, insensitive in her youth and naïveté to Jenny's reticence, pushes behind her friend's back when she can't nudge Jenny into action. And thus, Jenny is coerced into taking the courtroom sketch artist job. She soon discovers that Minx has submitted applications for them both to attend an eight-week art retreat at Laurelton Hall, the Long Island estate of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The point is to plunge 100% into one's art, sans any work-a-day distractions, amid more opulence than Jenny could ever imagine.

[W]e walked up a flight of steps and into the magical Fountain Court...Above our heads, forty-foot ceilings rose to an ornate blue and gold shimmering dome. In the center of the room, water flowed into a blue-tiled octagonal reflecting pool surrounded by potted plants. A tall glass vase fountain transformed from purple to blue to rose before our very eyes.

Rose brings Jenny's past to the surface through the young woman's luscious first-person narrative. Indeed, Jenny's voice is so rich with color, possessing so many sumptuous notes, it's like standing under a cool waterfall on a hot day with the sun's light refracting one rainbow after another. But I digress.

On an outing with her paints, Jenny encounters Louis Tiffany, who alludes to her dark past, advising her to "make the unfairness and ugliness [from her past] be the wind...Put them at your back, pushing you to search out the beauty that's not a lie." He tells her to "fight them with your paintings." It is also here that Jenny meets Oliver Tiffany, Louis's grandson whom the old man is grooming to run the family business. Himself an artist, Oliver's work is criticized as being too modern and trendy, whereas the Tiffany name had always stood for designs derived from nature. He and Jenny fall into dazzling, breathtaking love over the span of her stay. It is a magical summer of highs and lows, both mysterious and mystical that will change Jenny forever and I will not soon forget. In fact, even as a seasoned romantic fiction reviewer I was left weak-kneed by the love scene aboard Oliver's boat.

I often read books that make me want to be a better writer. I can't recall if I've ever read a book that made me want to reach for my sketch pad and charcoal. Tiffany Blues did both. But first I'm going to read it again.

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in August 2018, and has been updated for the July 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The History of Tiffany's

Join and Save 20%!

Become a member and
discover exceptional books.

Find out more

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Voted 2022 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. Geraldine Brooks creates a ...
  • Book Jacket: In Love
    In Love
    by Amy Bloom
    Voted 2022 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. In 2019, author Amy Bloom and her...
  • Book Jacket: Remarkably Bright Creatures
    Remarkably Bright Creatures
    by Shelby Van Pelt
    Voted 2022 Best Debut Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers. Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel, ...

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe

    The debut novel of a gifted storyteller who has become a sensation in her native South Africa.


The Big Holiday Wordplay

Enter Now

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
by Thrity Umrigar
Set in India, a tender and evocative novel about love across a cultural divide, familial devotion and betrayal.
Who Said...

The only completely consistent people are the dead

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.