Clara and Mr. Tiffany takes place at the turn of the 20th century in New York City. Clara Driscoll has recently returned to work at Tiffany’s after her husband’s sudden death. This isn’t Tiffany and Co. the jewelry store, rather this is the “artistic” Tiffany glass division run by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the owner of Tiffany and Co. One of the rules for working in Tiffany glass is that all the women must be unmarried. Mr. Tiffany believes that once married the creative nature of women is somehow stifled and skewed, therefore they are a hindrance to his work.
The clear focus of the story lies with Clara, who single-handedly comes up with the idea for the Tiffany lamps everyone is so familiar with now. Her relationship with Mr. Tiffany and her dedication to her work are admirable, especially in light of the time period. The reader can see her struggle with what she wants out of life when she is forced to deal with romantic pursuits over the years. However, in addition to Clara, the next largest “character” in this historical novel is arguably the city of New York. Vreeland does a wonderful job bringing the nature of the city during the early 1900s to life.
I enjoyed this book and if you have an interest in historical fiction you’ll probably appreciate it as well. I finished it wanting to know more about the Tiffany family.
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If you’re interested, there’s a short article on how to identify authentic Tiffany lamps on CNBC.com – that can be found here. It really helps you appreciate the work and value of the original Tiffany pieces.
For more information about Clara and the “Tiffany girls” (as they were known) check out this 2007 article about them from the New York Times.