Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: Clara and Mr. Tiffany

I decided to read Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland because I have read other books by the author and enjoyed them. I've even reviewed some of them on this blog. This book, like Vreeland's other books tells the story of an artist, in a historical fiction context. Vreeland is very good at telling a tale, and drawing a reader in. The characters are all very real, which sometimes makes them unlikeable, and I think that is why I do not always love her books, while at the same time I do enjoy reading them.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany is the story of a glass cutter working for Louis Comfort Tiffany (son of the man who started the jewelry business) at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. She is a determined artist, fighting to have a place in a world and craft dominated by men and all male unions and a man (Tiffany) who puts his name on every piece of art that comes out of his shop, no matter who designs it. This is the central story to the book, but Clara also has relationship issues, many stemming from the fact that Tiffany won't allow married women to work for him. But that just allows the author to highlight a work/love struggle women have today and have had since women were allowed a choice.

The book is fun, but deals with serious issues of the time that translate easily into our lives today. The parallels between Clara's life and modern times are easy to see in love, men, relationships, even gay issues, and the labor movement.
I recommend this book for those who enjoy historical fiction, art, or watching someone beat their head against a wall. Poor Clara I think frequently feels like her journey is an uphill one and as a reader it seems to take an awful lot of hard work for her to make small progress on her goals, but in the end she is happy which is success.

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