Iowa City Public Library's Reviews > Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
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's review
Feb 26, 2011

bookshelves: kara, audio, staff-picks-blog, historical-fiction, fiction
Read in February, 2011

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 each other, a distant relative of Clara Driscoll, a Tiffany scholar, and an archivist at the Queens Historical Society, each aware of only one collection of Clara’s letters, brought the correspondence to the attention of two art historians steeped in the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Martin Eidelberg and Nina Gray. Astonishingly, they were informed of two treasure troves of letters within just a few days of each other in 2005–one collection owned by Kelso House Museum in Kent, Ohio and housed at Kent State University Library, the other owned by the Queens Historical Society.”

From these letters comes a remarkable story about a woman who forged her way in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century. Clara struggles with being a professional woman at a time when women’s rights in the workplace were not recognized as well as her personal desire for her work to be recognized and attributed to her. Clara’s story unfolds with the backdrop of New York City life, the plight of new immigrants, the evolution of the decorative arts at Tiffany Studios on the heels of the Arts and Crafts Movement and her personal desire for love and companionship.

Susan Vreeland creates a wonderful, compelling story that makes me want to head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or other places where Tiffany’s work is displayed in order to see the beautiful creations that Clara poured her heart and soul into designing and creating. I listened to the book and Kimberly Farr’s narration was excellent. ~~Enjoy~~ --Kara

From ICPL Staff Picks Blog
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