Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Clara and Mr. Tiffany: A Novel Paperback – March 20, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
© Sam Ryu
For a century, everyone assumed that the iconic Tiffany lamps were conceived and designed by that American master of stained glass, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Not so! It was a woman! Aha! If it weren't for the Victorian zest for writing voluminous letters, Clara Driscoll would be only a footnote in the history of decorative arts. However, by an astonishing coincidence in 2005, three individuals unknown to each other--a distant relative of Clara, 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 specializing in Tiffany, Martin Eidelberg and Nina Gray. The result was electric. The two art historians contacted Margaret K. Hofer, Curator of Decorative Arts at the New York Historical Society which owns a huge collection of Tiffany lamps. Together they mounted an exhibition in 2007, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, in which Clara was hailed as "a gifted unsung artist" whose letters provided an eyewitness account of the workings of Tiffany Studios and revealed the vital role played by women. Their startling discovery rocked the art world. While I was on tour in New York for my 2007 novel, Luncheon of the Boating Party, my agent and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see a lavish Tiffany exhibit recreating a portion of his fabled Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall. Instantly, I fell in love with Tiffany glass. By another coincidence, her husband spotted a review of the New York Historical Society exhibition, which we saw the next day. I was intrigued, but not convinced until I read the illuminating exhibition book as well as Clara's correspondence at the library of Kent State University, Ohio, and at the Queens Historical Society. Poring over her letters, I discovered the wry, lively, sometimes rhapsodic voice of a freethinking woman who bicycled all around Manhattan and beyond, wore a riding skirt daringly shorter than street length, adored opera, followed the politics of the city even though she couldn't vote, and threw herself into the crush of Manhattan life--the Gilded Age uptown as well as the immigrant poverty of the Lower East Side. There before me in her own handwriting was an account of her making the first leaded-glass lampshade with mosaic base. I recognized her to be a dynamic yet tender leader who developed the Women's Department which created the nature-based lamps she designed. I rubbed my hands together in glee. When I remembered that my mother, who lovingly called colors by their flower and fruit names, and who worked briefly as a lamp designer in Chicago in the 1930s, was required to resign from another position when she became engaged, just like the Tiffany Girls were required to do, I felt a personal connection to Clara. I sought out as many of her lamps as I could find, researched Tiffany and New York's cultural history in more than fifty books and articles, and then I eagerly settled down to write the story I felt was mine to tell. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
But at its core, this book is about an artistic woman who seeks value in her life and in her work. Clara tells her tale in the first person; and through her eyes, we are thus able to witness her personal and professional setbacks and successes. We meet the assortment of her fellow bohemians who reside in one particular Irishwoman's boarding house. As we take Clara's side and hope that she finds all of the external validation and the happiness that she deserves, we come to realize that her boss, Mr. Tiffany, is in search of those same satisfactions, too. The lingering question is: Will they both succeed?
Good historical fiction introduces us to worlds we do not know firsthand. It teaches us history while it confirms for us the universality of the human experience. Author Susan Vreeland conveys these concepts well. Even her chapter headings reflect the storyline.Read more ›
I was much struck while reading this that many have wondered why there have not been more famous women artists, writers, composers, etc. Well, this woman was not known as the creator of these "Tiffany" lamps until letters she had written home were discovered very recently. That is the compelling part of this novel for me. I don't think I would have enjoyed this as much as I would if it had not been based on a real person's story and that person was a victim of her time - Tiffany's "girls" were not allowed to marry, if they did they lost their positions. They were certainly not allowed to form a union. The men's union at Tiffany worked hard to get them shut down and concessions had to be made to allow them to have a woman's workshop - this was early 1900s.Read more ›
Vreeland does not make this radical claim without proof and true to form she has woven this particular story around extant historical documentation. In this instance, Vreeland was able to use Clara Driscoll's own words as expressed in her letters which were discovered in 2005. Vreeland's novel is filled with details and descriptions of life in New York City. In fact, these descriptions are one of the novel's greatest strengths; Vreeland's ability to create such incredible images with her words gives the reader the opportunity to completely understand what life was like for an unmarried woman living and working in turn of the century New York.
Clara Driscoll's time at the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company was not just about her creation and designing the leaded glass lamps but also about the creation and flourishing of the Women's Department with Clara as its head. In a time when women barely had any rights at all, Clara Driscoll saw that her girls earned a fair wage and were treated with respect. Admittedly, these issues were not always easy ones and Vreeland expertly deals with the social aspects of women in the workplace.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting and enjoyable following Clara's life . Interesting historical facts.Published 5 days ago by Coralee J Owsley
I really enjoyed this insight into the making of Tiffany lamps. Clara Driscoll is somewhat larger than life as a character but extremely likeable as a female employee of Louis... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sally Twain
Women's issues and art glass--two of my favorite topics--come together in this novel. I hadn't known Tiffany glass had a female designer behind many of its creations.Published 1 month ago by Donna S. Meredith
I loved this story as it propelled me to search the Tiffany styles as I was reading. I had to see the wisteria lamp and all the others even though Susan Vreeland portrayed an... Read morePublished 1 month ago by CC
I am not into art and I thought the pace of the story was slow. There a few good areas of story development but not enough to hold my interest.Published 1 month ago by Sharen Dinkins
I chose this rating because the book contains far too much detail about the making of the glass pieces. It lost my interest because of this. I did enjoy Clara. Read morePublished 1 month ago by lynee
Finished this a month ago and find myself thinking about it, I liked it.Published 2 months ago by Louanne
A lot of historical information about Tiffany glass. I liked it but you could put it down and pick up later. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer