Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Clara and Mr. Tiffany
by Susan Vreeland

I’ve always thought Tiffany lamps and his other glass pieces were gorgeous. I love the idea of blending art with functional pieces in your home. That’s the main reason I was interested in reading this.

We see the world of Louis Comfort Tiffany through the eyes of one of his top designers, Clara Driscoll. She struggles to find equal footing in a man’s world. Even though she’s a talented designer, she is never given the same credit or respect for her work. The unfair rules and regulations that women had to face in the work place back then were absurd. If a woman got married, she could no longer work at Tiffany Glass Studios. Tiffany didn’t want any married women working for him, because he thought they would no longer make their work a priority. The same standard was obviously not applied to his male workers.

I enjoyed learning more about Tiffany, his company, the strikes and battles women faced in the work force. I also loved the descriptions of New York City at the turn of the century. Unfortunately, Clara’s personal life fell a bit flat for me. It just seemed like she was always longing for something she couldn’t have and that seemed like such a waste.

She wanted to marry her best friend, but he was gay. She had an odd love/hate relationship with Tiffany and always seemed to desire his approval in a way that wasn’t quite related to only her work. Her obsession with Tiffany and talk of her lover’s jealousy of his attention was a little creepy. Her relationship with her fiancé added another odd aspect in the book. They seemed happy, then things took a really strange turn and everything changed.

The book was at its best when they were talking about the actual designs, incorporating their love of nature into their work and women’s rights in the work force. If those aspects interest you, then it’s definitely worth reading, but some of the other bits lost my interest.

“How easily a parent’s motive could be misconstrued by an injured child.”

p.s. One interesting tidbit, did you all know that Louis Comfort Tiffany, the creator of Tiffany Glass Studio, was the son of the man who created the famous jewelry company Tiffany & Co? I had no idea!

Photo from here.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I was totally enthralled with this book. I do admit that preferred the parts about the glass work, but her personal life was pitiable. And she was a modern woman by comparison! Crazy, the sacrifices she made for the love of her work. I actually could relate to her when it came to her relationship to Mr. Tiffany, because I had a very dysfunctional and love/hate thing with one of my bosses. Nothing inappropriate, but just weird. I totally got that. I know I will never look at those windows and lamps the same again!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I loved the audio version of this one. Thought the story was interesting and the history of glass fascinating.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - She was such a modern woman! I loved learning about the glass making process. I do think it's interesting how our personal experiences influence our reading of a book. If you have shared a relatable experience with a character it's so much easier to connect!

Diane - The history was really fascinating. I loved that part!

Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

I didn't know that little fun-fact about the Tiffany family, how interesting!

It's too bad that the bits about Clara's personal life weren't up to par with the historical aspects of the book. Still, I'll probably read it based on the book's strengths :)

B said...

Beautiful cover art on this one! If I saw it in a bookstore I'd definitely be drawn to it.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kat - I think it's worth reading. I love reading about New York during that time period too, so that was an added bonus.

Brenna - The cover was gorgeous! I've always loved the colors Tiffany used frequently.

Kailana said...

I have read one book by Vreeland and liked it, but I have never read anything else by her... I keep thinking I should, but she gets a lot of mixed reviews.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kailana - I really liked her short story collection "Girl in Hyacinth Blue."

Captain Nick Sparrow said...

I loved Luncheon of the Boating Party by the same author. Thank you for your review of this one!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Captain - I haven't read that one yet.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

The more I see the cover, the more I want to read this book. What can I say, I love a gorgeous cover!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Bookworm1858 - Isn't it lovely!