Clara and Mr. Tiffany

  • by Susan Vreeland
  • Narrated by Kimberly Farr
  • 15 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Against the unforgettable backdrop of New York near the turn of the 20th century, from the Gilded Age world of formal balls and opera to the immigrant poverty of the Lower East Side, best-selling author Susan Vreeland again breathes life into a work of art in this extraordinary novel, which brings a woman once lost in the shadows into vivid color.
It’s 1893, and at the Chicago World’s Fair, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut with a luminous exhibition of innovative stained-glass windows, which he hopes will honor his family business and earn him a place on the international artistic stage. But behind the scenes in his New York studio is the freethinking Clara Driscoll, head of his women’s division. Publicly unrecognized by Tiffany, Clara conceives of and designs nearly all of the iconic leaded-glass lamps for which he is long remembered.
Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the seemingly insurmountable challenges that she faces as a professional woman, which ultimately force her to protest against the company she has worked so hard to cultivate. She also yearns for love and companionship, and is devoted in different ways to five men, including Tiffany, who enforces to a strict policy: he does not hire married women, and any who do marry while under his employ must resign immediately.
Eventually, like many women, Clara must decide what makes her happiest—the professional world of her hands or the personal world of her heart.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good read with a few problems

Overall, I'm glad I listened to this book and learned about Clara Driscoll. It was gratifying to find out, through a little Internet research, that the story is based heavily on the real Clara's letters and actual stained glass pieces she is believed to have designed. The narrative, however, does drag on a bit, as other reviewers have noted, and there are a number of barely-developed characters of whom it is hard to keep track. Perhaps most importantly for me, the narrator's voice very often was unconvincing. I found her English accents unrealistic and her tone frequently sarcastic when sarcasm did not seem appropriate. The strength of this book is in the life and character of the real person, Clara Driscoll, who produced incredible works of decorative art (for which, until very recently, she received no recognition), while also managing a large department of mostly immigrant working women during a time when a workplace like Tiffany Studios was almost unheard of for women. Susan Vreeland unquestionably has a knack for bringing art to life.
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- Melissa

The real Clara Driscoll deserves better.

While I did learn a bit about Tiffany Studios and Clara Driscoll, this book was far too much like an overwrought and overwritten soap opera for my taste. Clara Driscoll's life, story, and accomplishments could have been much more interesting in a different author's hands, but this Clara weeps, wails, and waits - for acceptance and recognition from Louis Comfort Tiffany, and for love (from LCT?) but doesn't seem to know what to do when she receives what she has been seeking. All in all, this Clara is not a very likable character and I think the real Clara Driscoll probably deserves better.
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- Bonny "Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-11-2011
  • Publisher: Random House Audio