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Clara and Mr. Tiffany

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  15,852 ratings  ·  1,669 reviews
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
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by Random House (first published January 1st 2010)
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Historical Fiction 2011
20th out of 116 books — 654 voters
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Art & Artists in Fiction
26th out of 469 books — 778 voters

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Community Reviews

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The entire time I was reading Susan Vreeland's "Clara and Mr. Tiffany" I couldn't get out of my head that Clara Driscoll's ties to her boss, Louis Comfort Tiffany, reminded me a lot of another relationship that has so captured my attention——and that's Don Draper and Peggy Olsen.

Leave it to a Mad Men fan girl to make a connection like that, but this novel paints a picture of the relationship between its two protagonists that's a precursor of sorts to its 1960s fictional counterpart. There was an
While I did learn a bit about Tiffany Studios and Clara Driscoll, this book was far too much like an overwrought and overwritten soap opera for my taste. Clara Driscoll's life, story, and accomplishments could have been much more interesting in a different author's hands, but this Clara weeps, wails, and waits - for acceptance and recognition from Louis Comfort Tiffany, and for love (from LCT?) but doesn't seem to know what to do when she receives what she has been seeking. All in all, this Clar ...more
EZRead eBookstore
The woman behind the glass – that is what Clara Driscoll could be referred to. Though there is no certainty that Clara was the innovator for the Tiffany lampshades, that is the assumption made for the purpose of this book.

Here’s a heads up, beauty is NOT is not found anywhere on the inside in this book. With the subtle acts and comments of ignorance, I have to ask, is Clara blinded by beauty? She is portrayed as choosing art over love and even comments that death could be beautiful, in the right
Didn't finish this one- got to a bit over 100 pages and then realized that I didn't care what happened next. The premise was interesting: a woman artist working in a time when female artists weren't recognized, Tiffany glass, New York at the turn of the twentieth century.

I wanted to fall into the book, and I just couldn't. Clara's character wasn't likable. She seemed prim, although Clara herself seemed to think she was bohemian. She had a mean-spirited sense of humor, and seemed to think that be
Sometimes I really like Susan Vreeland, sometimes she just doesn't do it for me. I think she is at her best when she manages to get inside her characters' heads to show what art means to them or what inspires people to create. I just wasn't getting that from this book.

I loved the idea of the story, showing how women made the beautiful Tiffany glass creations while Mr. Tiffany got all the credit. But the book is full of clunky dialogue explaining the process of working with glass and summing up p
Wow. My mother read this a few years ago, and I knew it didn't thrill her, but wow. That was some bad, bad writing. Seriously bad. I can't even.

I don't think Ms Vreeland had an editor, or this never would have been published. The characters were oft-times indistinguishable, relationships were spoken of as though they were significant, but they were totally flat and unbelievable, and there was really no driving narrative. The gilded age New York City setting should have been interesting, but Vre
Blythe Barnhill
I made myself finish 50 pages of this drivel, and that is all I will be finishing because life is way too short to read crap like this. I can thank the author for inspiring me to create my new "life's too short" bookshelf for books I start and don't finish (not because I lack the will power, but because they are not even worth the time I gave them). Here's some helpful advice for the author: 1. Read some books. About 200 or 300 more. 2. Listen to conversations and find out how people actually ta ...more
Book Concierge
Audio book performed by Kimberly Farr

This is an interesting historical novel that tells the story of the woman behind (and in many ways WAY in front of) the man.

Clara Driscoll was a woman of artistic vision. It was she who first thought of using nature themes in stained glass lamp shades. It was her dragon-fly lamp design that won an award at the 1900 Paris World Fair; the newspapers reported the award was won by Louis Comfort Tiffany, but her name was listed as designer.

Vreeland crafts a fine
There are many things to like about this novel though sometimes it felt like the story was a mosaic with each element being very separate from the others. It could have benefited from a more fluid integration of the individual elements and would have made for greater reading enjoyment on my part.

I really liked the bits of history woven in, the rising popularity of the bicycle, the opening of the subway, the development of the city as the wealthy moved into the area, women organizing for their r
I really wanted to like this book. It is based on the life of Clara Driscoll, the women who created the Tiffany lamps, and it has all of the elements of a good story: a turn-of-the-century New York setting, a "strong" female protagonist who must choose between love or her talent, the bonhomie of the art world, etc. Hm. The characters were two-dimensional, there was way too much information about the construction of stained-glass pieces (the book should have included pictures of the pieces so rub ...more
Christine Roberts
In this turn of the century historical drama, Clara Driscoll is the brain behind the genius Tiffany lamps, not the great Louis Tiffany. It spans almost twenty years of her life and career, and highlights the difficulty of employed women in that area. It's an interesting, creative novel, strong in exactly the right kind of girl power.
The only thing I had issues with was that the book moved slowly to me. It would have made four stars had the pacing been a little better.
There were parts of this book that I loved - history, classism, feminism, unionism, time period, the history of stained glass making. In fact, I spent a lot of time at my computer looking up different aspects of the history of Tiffany's stained glass windows, panels and lamps that was really interesting for me. And, they truly are beautiful!

Years ago I took a class in stained glass and worked at it for a couple of years but found it so much harder and more complicated than I imagined it to be. I
Iowa City Public Library
Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland is the delightful fictionalized story of Clara Driscoll and the years she worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany at his New York studio. Clara Discoll was the head of the Tiffany Women’s Division and possibly the person who conceived the idea for the iconic Tiffany stained glass lamps.

According to Susan Vreeland, Clara Driscoll’s story came to life through letters she wrote to her mother and sisters:

“By a remarkable coincidence, three individuals unknown to eac
Having just seen the Tiffany exhibit at Biltmore Estate, devoted mostly to Tiffany lamps, it was a perfect time to read this historical novel. In one respect, it did not disappoint: it gave me some insight into the design and construction of the lamps and the making and choosing of the extraordinary glass that gives them life.

According to the postscript, this life of Clara Driscoll is highly fictionalized---and it’s not known whether Clara actually was instrumental in initiating the lamp line f
Fantastic read. I love historical fiction because it can teach you so much about a particular era. I actually picked up the book based on the beautiful cover and after reading the inside jacket. The story moves along at a good pace and you come to really know the characters. I became a lot more interested in knowing more about the Gilded Age that I was before.
I was going to give this novel four stars, but after some thinking I felt I might've been a little too generous with my four stars, hence skewing my whole rating system. I ended up revising the ratings for a lot of books on my Goodreads shelf, and giving this one three stars instead.

Clara's hero-worship of her employer Mr. Tiffany weirds me out a bit. She stresses that her feelings are platonic and professional but to me she acts almost like someone in love, if not with Tiffany as a person then
Lori Summers
This was the first book I've read by Susan Vreeland, but this, her latest novel, is just one of a large pantheon of works by her and other authors that might be called "fictionalized history." A specific historical person or event is borrowed and a fictionalized tale is woven around it and what is known about it through historical records. One could argue that "The Girl With the Pearl Earring" started this, but many others have followed.

In this case, the historical person of record is Clara Dris
Susan Vreeland's latest novel, "Clara and Mr. Tiffany," provides a look at women's lot during the earliest days of the industrial revolution and in the arts.

Clara Driscoll and the other "Tiffany girls" were designers and creators of the famous lamps that came from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Workshops in New York City during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their work was primarily anonymous, and it is only thanks to the surviving letters of Mrs. Driscoll that we have as much information a
Although Clara and Mr. Tiffany is historical fiction, Clara Driscoll and some of the other characters as well as the well-known Louis Comfort Tiffany were real people. Tiffany is famous; his designers, including Clara, who did the work for which he got credit, are not.

Clara, as a widow, was allowed to work for Mr. Tiffany, but any of his “girls” who married had to leave the company immediately, leading to some disastrous results. The men who worked for Tiffany resented the women's presence, eve
Not until recently has it become known that Clara Driscoll was the leading lady behind the designs and execution of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Tiffany lamps. It is finally time for her to shine and it none better than with “Clara and Mr. Tiffany”.

Characteristic of Vreeland’s work (especially The Passion of Artemisia), Clara and Mr. Tiffany instantly plunges you into an artistic and colorful world. So vivid is your adventure, that at times the reader will feel like rainbows and paint are erupting fr
I would like to give it more stars because it had the makings of a good book but I just couldn't get completely into it. Way too much in the way of flowery descriptions of colors and glass for me and the dialogue was just rather strange. I think the real story of Clara is probably very interesting but the way this was told, I only saw flashes of it.
It must have been a lot of work because she touches on most of the historical data of the Gilded Age and I would have loved to have known more. Women
My rule is this: give a book at least 50 pages to engage and keep my interest. I read about 65 pages and gave up. I just didn't care about any of the characters.

I wanted to like this book. I love the Art Deco movement. I think Tiffany mosaics are amazing. I am interested in the time period. But Clara was just not an interesting protagonist. I couldn't keep motivated to continue reading this book.

Clara, a former Tiffany employee, gets her job back after her husband's death. (Tiffany has a rule a
Clara and Mr. Tiffany is a fictional novel based on fairly recently discovered information about the work and studio of Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Tiffany of the stained glass windows and the lamps, son of the Tiffany of the jewelry store.` A 2007 museum exhibit, inspired in part by the letters of Clara Driscoll, cast a new light on who exactly did what in Mr. Tiffany’s studio. This book does a wonderful job of portraying the kind of life a working woman would have led in the New York City of th ...more
I don't know what makes the people on the back of Clara and Mr. Tiffany give it such rave reviews. It was an interesting story, an interesting slice of life, but the writing was really pretty dreadful. Susan Vreeland clearly did her research on this book, but couldn't figure out how to integrate it without sounding like a textbook. My favorite example was when Clara actually went to the library to research the women's labor movement and Rose Schneiderman. Lots of historical name dropping. And I' ...more
Interesting story, but far too descriptive for me.
Louis Comfort Tiffany made his debut at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 with a luminous exhibition of innovative staind-glass windows, which he hopes will honor his family business and earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But it is Clara Driscoll, head of the women's division and publicly unrecognized by Tiffany, who conceived of and designed nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which he is long remembered. She also yearns for love and companionship, but Tiffany does ...more
Etta Mcquade
I learned several things about the late 1890s and early 1900s that I had not realized. Tiffany did not hire married women. If one of his single woman workers married, she was immediately out. Women could not belong to unions, either. It has only been recently that we have learned that Clara Driscoll, head of Tiffany's women's division, designed and created nearly all of his iconic leaded-glass lamps that he is famous for. Author Susan Vreeland attributes her carefully-researched book to Clara de ...more
If you've every done stained glass or admired a Tiffany Lamp, you'll enjoy this book. Clara works for Tiffany's in the womens' glass shop. She is creative and given free rein by Louis Tiffany who sees and encourages her talent. She is a strong feminist and the story gets into the first unions, plight of the immigrants and the grandeur of Tiffany.
There is a lot of descriptions of glass, it's choosing and how they came about their designs, so to like this book, you have to enjoy that type of thi
Clair Belmonte
Wow, this was truly dreadful.

The inspiration and the idea behind this novel are excellent - I did love learning more about the Tiffany girls. However, Clara was a pathetic character who didn't amount to much more than a frightened, whining school girl. The only one who got any sort of meaningful character profile was Louis Comfort Tiffany, but even this was overshadowed by Clara's desperate need to impress a man who is already clearly impressed with her.

The real weakness of this book is the hor
Diana Gotsch
Maybe it was me, But I never really warmed up to this book. The characters were at best boring and at worst unlikable. The thrust of the book is the story of women trying to survive in the workplace of the late 19th and early 20th century. Not just as factory workers but as artists. Should have been an interesting subject. But the main character seems to jump from one relationship to another. In fact that is the problem with the book. The author tried to cover to many of the problems of the era ...more
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Susan Vreeland is an internationally renowned best-selling author and four-time winner of the Theodor Geisel Award for Fiction, the San Diego Book Award’s highest honor. She is known for writing historical fiction on art-related themes, including Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Her books have been translated into 26 languag ...more
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“You know, bicycling isn't just a matter of balance," I said. "it's a matter of faith. You can keep upright only by moving forward. You have to have your eyes on the goal, not the ground. I'm going to call that the Bicyclist's Philosophy of Life.” 19 likes
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