Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Clara and Mr. Tiffany - Susan Vreeland 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 about the work as we do.Vreeland shows us Driscoll's life in a boarding house, and the lives of her "girls" in homes ranging from the elegant and well-appointed to hall apartments in tenement slums. Tiffany did not allow any married women to work for him (Driscoll was widowed), and there are many conflicts that come about from this rule as well.The main theme of the book is rising above challenges, such as the glaziers' union trying to freeze out the women entirely, and with Driscoll's suitors. Other challenges are typical of the time: poverty, disease and lack of freedom. There is much to learn from this book, alongside the entertainment value.I was charmed and fascinated by this book, and was sorry to see it end. If you are interested in the arts and womens' roles in creating them, this is the book for you.