Set in the late 1800s through the first quarter of the new century, Clara and Mr. Tiffany is about Clara Driscoll, head of the women's division at Tiffany Studios. Not to be confused with the Tiffany Company that we know as the present day jewelry store, Tiffany Studios produced window mosaics and, most famously, lamps. Louis Comfort Tiffany often failed to submit the names of the designers of Tiffany Studios' prized works, but exhibits in the last few years have credited most of his successful and intricate pieces to Clara.
This was quite an unnecessarily lengthy read. I'd say that a quarter of the book focused on Clara's time at the studios, while the rest focused on her failed relationships with men and her friendship with the other boarders where she resided. At times, there were just too many characters to keep track of and try to remember their story line or how they were connected to her. The most interesting interactions were between Clara and "the girls" of Tiffany Studios.
|Tiffany Studios' dragonfly lamp|
In addition to the work inequality forced upon the women by the demands of the men's union, Louis Comfort Tiffany did not allow married women to work in his studios. Quite a few of the women, who tended to be immigrants that needed the money to help their families, had to quit upon getting married. In most instances, they were making more money than their future husbands and getting married was a step down for them economically. Twice married or engaged, Clara left Tiffany and only returned when her marriage or engagement ended. While women were held to these standards by Tiffany, who didn't want the distraction of a husband or children interfering with his work production, no such limits were placed on his male workers.
From a historical fiction aspect, this is a perfectly good read. However, if you're looking for entertainment or a story that really draws you in, this probably isn't the read for you.
Published: January 2011
Listening time 16 hours
Theme: Sufferin' till Suffrage from Schoolhouse Rock