Barb's Reviews > Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
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Dec 05, 10

bookshelves: hf-victorian-1837-1901, new-york, read-in-2010, vine, women
Read in December, 2010

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 right for better pay and the right to vote.

I enjoyed the story of Clara Driscoll's life, the personal as well as professional. She was one of very few women working the Arts and Crafts industry at the turn of the century. She worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany making beautiful mosaic lamps and stained glass windows.

I loved the descriptions of the glass and the inspirations for the art Clara and the women in her department created. It made me nostalgic for art class and I wanted to go see some Tiffany glass at a museum. Coincidence alleviated any planning needed on my part and while I was reading this book my daughter's class took a field trip to the Johnson Art Museum at Cornell University and I was happy to see some examples of Favrile glass, a type of iridescent art glass designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

I also enjoyed reading about Clara's friendship with artists George Waldo and Dudley Carpenter and Henry McBride the art critic. The intrigue regarding her romantic relationship was moving and well written, though I would have liked the ending of this story to have been better developed. There were times when the story felt very much like it was being draped over a skeleton of facts instead of woven around them.

I would have appreciated more character development of Clara's female co-workers, their stories were included but not very well fleshed out. The ending has some dramatic personal crises that seemed disjointed from the rest of the book and some interactions that didn't feel authentic.

I did grow to enjoy these characters and I enjoyed Vreeland's rendering of New York City at the turn of the century. But I also felt like I may have had too high an expectation for Vreeland's writing given all of the critical acclaim her other novels have generated. I did like this and there were parts I loved, but it didn't knock my socks off like I had hoped it would, still a worthwhile read to learn about Louis Comfort Tiffany and Clara Driscoll.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Tara Chevrestt Love your review. Especially love what you say here: "There were times when the story felt very much like it was being draped over a skeleton of facts instead of woven around them." That's a great way of stating it.

I have this one just two down in my to read pile. Just haven't gotten to it yet.


Barb I really loved the story line with her friend George's brother Edwin and I was facinated by the lamp making...

Thanks for the compliments on my review, I hope you like the book.


Tara Chevrestt I love Tiffany stuff. I have two lamps.


Barb very cool...


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