Customer Reviews for

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Average Rating 3.5
( 103 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

This is an engaging historical novel

Louis Comfort Tiffany hires unmarried women as his artists to avoid the strikes that men are prone to conduct. His New York glass studio manager Clara Driscoll is a widow with a series of romantic tragedies besides her husband's death. Clara does her best to insure he...
Louis Comfort Tiffany hires unmarried women as his artists to avoid the strikes that men are prone to conduct. His New York glass studio manager Clara Driscoll is a widow with a series of romantic tragedies besides her husband's death. Clara does her best to insure her talented female crew is taken care of properly.

In 1893 Tiffany presents the stained glass collection at the Chicago World's Fair. He takes all the accolades failing to mention the genius he left behind in New York. Clara enjoys living amidst the Gilded Age New York artist community, but wishes her contribution as the creator of the stained glass lampshades that have made Tiffany's famous would also bring her renown. The credit for the innovation goes to Tiffany, but Clara lives with that as her employer encourages her and her girls to create even if it negatively impacts profits. She also wishes for a man who was devoted to her as she has been to Tiffany and others.

This is an engaging historical that bases the storyline on the premise that Driscoll was the artistic genius not Tiffany although history and the then late nineteenth century gave all the kudos to the man. Thus the reader obtains a sense of time and place as society praises Tiffany but ignores his female workshop and its brilliant leader. Readers who enjoy something different will relish the tale of the woman behind the famous man.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on November 20, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Historic data not matching up

I first questioned the authenticity of this book when Clara was charged $50/month for room and board. Understanding that this amount also included meals, it just does not make sense for the time period. $50 in 1892 would equal about $1200/month today. Does not add up.

posted by 5655711 on February 1, 2011

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  • Posted February 20, 2013

    An Interesting, Entertaining Look at Historic Characters

    Our book club enjoyed this book, each of us for a slightly different reason. We all found it easy to read and quite entertaining. A few thought the amount of technical detail was a bit much, but it was easy to skim over and get back to the story. Personally, I thought the technical detail was interesting and served to better illustrate Clara's unusual status in what was a man's domain. We all found Vreeland's imagined reconstruction of characters and events to be entirely believable in the context of the actual historic evidence available. The book provided interesting, unexpected glimpses into different aspects of life then: the immigrant experience, seaside holidays, medical treatments, the gay community. Bottom line: not necessarily a must-read, but a very worthwhile book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    jkhcjh@comcast.net

    I thought this book was not only a wonderful experience of how the world of art was for women at the turn of the century but about the life and times of Tiffany and how he built a powerful business and world of beauty from glass!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    Two Talented Personalities during a time of emerging rights for women

    Very interesting book. I am well-acquainted with the Tiffany lamps and panels but had not had much information previously about Clara Driscoll except as a shadowy figure in the background who had a major impact on the lamp designs but who never got any credit. Contrary to some who found the manufacturing details tedious, I found them very interesting. My appreciation of the skill, talent, and expertise that made the lamps and panels was heightened. Also, Clara Driscoll's management skills went way beyond what was seen elsewhere in the business. Since the women weren't allowed to join the union, they had a greater opportunity to make themselves indispensable to the business. Clara Driscoll was a very liberated woman for her time. Louis C Tiffany's personality was also explored in depth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2014

    A note

    Slides through the crack in the door 'Denim.'

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2013

    Recommended

    Good book and being a New Yorker it was delightful the historical data from Louis Tiffany era. The stain glass beginning and a time long gone but clearly stated in Susan Vreeland book.

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  • Posted January 21, 2013

    The book is engaging & very well written. It's fun to read a

    The book is engaging & very well written. It's fun to read about New York city as well as the art of Tiffany.Of course women played more than a pivotal role in what most believe was a man's domain. VERY enjoyable. And, the characters were intriguing as well.

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  • Posted April 15, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    NYC during the Gilded Age - a fascinating read!

    In Clara and Mr. Tiffany, Susan Vreeland gives us a glimpse into New York City during the Gilded Age. The novel centers on Clara Driscoll a critically important designer in Louis Comfort Tiffany's Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company. Clara designed many of the mosaics and the iconic Tiffany lamps at a time when women were afforded very few employment opportunities. Her work at Tiffany's gave her a chance to focus on art and appreciate beauty and gave her some financial independence but also required that she remain single. Tiffany only hired unmarried women - and once a woman married she had to leave the company.

    We learn much about what it meant to live and work in America during this time. Vreeland weaves these facts in with such skill that the period and people become real. We read about the Chicago World's Fair, the use of electricity on the grounds, and the impact that Tiffany's stained glass windows had. We can picture the world through Clara's eyes, as she lives on Gramercy Park sharing a house with artists and writers. The Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side, the construction of the Flatiron Building, even Stanford White are all part of the narrative.

    Clara and Mr. Tiffany combines art, history, American Studies and cultural history but more than anything it is a glimpse into the life of a brave, creative, and tenacious young woman. A fascinating and satisfying read - highly recommended!

    ISBN-10: 1400068169 - Hardcover
    Publisher: Random House (January 11, 2011), 432 pages.
    Review copy provided by the publisher.

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