Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

A Novel

Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2011.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781400068166
Characteristics: xiii, 405 pages ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Mr. Tiffany


From the critics

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Jul 26, 2019

Yes, THE famous Louis Comfort Tiffany. Imagine his studio, staffed by all unmarried women. Clara is the head of the "Women's Division", and conceives of and designs the iconic stained-glass lamps, but is never publicly recognized. A great historical fiction read.

Jun 14, 2019

Loved this book about women in art, being unrecognized and their lives in boarding houses with the mores of the time.

Feb 12, 2017

It was interesting to read, especially because I've made some stained glass. But the writing suffered from the author's desire to educate; various characters gave little lectures so that the author could get some historical facts across.

Dec 30, 2016

I loved this book. The storyline flowed nicely, while clearly explaining a craft (Tiffany glass) of which I had no prior knowledge. I am super excited to actually go see some Tiffany windows in Topeka, KS after reading this book. I appreciate that after the conclusion of the story, the author takes time to identify the truthful facts of the book, and where the fiction was, to keep the forward progression of the story.

WMorello Feb 02, 2015

This book is so detailed about the processes of Tiffany glass, my eyes are "glassing over". It is so slow, who cares? If it hadn't come highly recommended by BOTH sisters, I would never have tried to finish it.

Aug 01, 2014

I found the descriptions of designing, glassmaking, cutting and assembling to be fascinating. The depiction of life at the time made me burn for the oppressed women. However, I found the writing style to be stilted and unrealistic, and some of Clara's flights of fancy were overblown. Don't expect great literature (or even more than mediocre writing) but the book is worth reading simply for illuminating (get it?) the creation of stunning American works of art and craftsmanship.

b_schweig Mar 01, 2014

I had to read this book for a class at Harper and although it was long (397) pages on in story content, I didn't feel the pressure some other books have to pull out concepts. The author beautifully crafts artistic integrity, human emotion, and duality of both worlds. I did feel like I was often at wars with the main protagonist Clara. She was constantly fawning over. L.C.Tiffany's affection for recognition, and in this way she would feel gratified. She proves herself in the end

BookEnthusiast Mar 01, 2013

A wonderful depiction of an artistic female's work life in the Tiffany studios. The level of detail is exquisite and I found myself looking up photos of all the lamps mentioned in the book. I'm astonished that Clara's contributions to Tiffany were just unearthed in 2006, and to know now that her work is coveted today by so many.

EuSei Apr 04, 2012

I did not enjoy the informal tone of the book—after all, it starts in 1892 and people did not address their employers informally. I cannot imagine Miss Driscoll saying this to Tiffany when he showed her his new plans: “Gracious! You’ve been on fire. Go slower!” And this sounded so puerile: “A new young floor manager tried to stop me at the marble stairway. I gave him a look that implied, ‘I was here before you were born,’ […].” Oh, dear… Then there is the utterly unnecessary demeaning of Tiffany as “little Napoléon”; I have seen pictures of him and, unless he was surrounded by dwarves, he did not look short. The author mentions Tiffany’s painting on the walls (Market Day and Citadel Mosque of Old Cairo) en passant, but if you ever seen them, you will know how beautifully detailed they are, how harmonious the colors. Do not recommend this book.

Jan 15, 2012

Great book. I especially enjoyed the smaller details of life in that time period - obviously a lot of good research went into this book. The story was woven smoothly through all the history, as well.

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Aug 01, 2014

cimicifuga thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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