Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
In the late 1800′s many single women flocked to New York to find respectable work in the burgeoning industries. Clara Driscoll, one such woman, managed the all-women’s Glass Cutting Department at Tiffany Studios, where she and her staff were known as the Tiffany Girls.
|The novel, Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland, is the story of Clara Wolcott Driscoll, the design genius behind the famous and exquisite Tiffany lamps.In the late 1800′s, a period in which scores of single women flocked to the big cities to find respectable work in the burgeoning industries, Clara came to New York City from Ohio. She began working for Tiffany Studios, established by renown aesthetic artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany of Tiffany & Company. Soon Clara was managing the all-women’s Glass Cutting Department for Tiffany where she and her staff were known as the Tiffany Girls.
However, this was turn of the century New York, and contributions made to the arts and industry by women went wholly unrecognized. The beautiful designs created by Clara and the Tiffany Girls would have remained attributed solely to Louis Comfort Tiffany and his male staff of designers were it not for the recent discovery of hundreds of letters detailing the true nature of Clara’s collaboration with Mr. Tiffany.
Author Susan Vreeland, inspired by the revelations in Clara’s letters, brings a vibrant Clara to life, as she reveals the struggles of the Victorian era working woman. She provides fascinating insights on the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements of the time, and interesting background on the design techniques of stained glass.
Book Club Ideas
I have always had a great fondness for stained glass designs especially religious-inspired windows which I often find to be so breathtaking and awesome. I have several Tiffany-style (wish I could afford an original) lamps. I included my dragonfly lamp in my party decorations along with some chocolate daisies — Clara brought chocolate daisies, along with ice cream, to a particularly intense meeting with her Tiffany girls.
But, don’t go out and purchase a new Tiffany-style lamp for your party. I found this cool little stained glass light bulb at Amazon.com which puts off some very pretty colors for your party lighting.
The chocolate daisies are super easy to prepare with your favorite choice of melting chocolate and a daisies candy mold which I found for under $3 at Amazon.com.
For a cute party favor for your guests, include Tiffany Designs Stained Glass Coloring Books. And, for your coffee table, the lovely, yet inexpensive Louis Comfort Tiffany Masterworks illustrated book.
Book Club Menu
I planned the meal by channeling my inner artist … sadly, my inner artist isn’t very artsy … but I did want to keep close to the theme, and had fun coming up with the menu ideas.
Stained Glass Cake
(An old tried, true and terrific Jell-O recipe)
Pretty Pink Pomegranate Lemonade
(The “stained glass” ice cubes can be found at Bed Bath and Beyond,
but I haven’t had any luck finding them online.)
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.58 stars (816 ratings)|
|Amazon: 3.7 stars (73 ratings)|
|Barnes & Noble: 3.5 stars (50 ratings)|
|My Rating: 4.5 stars I loved all the background on the Tiffany lamps and the plight of working women in America at the turn of the century. I am a HUGE Susan Vreeland fan!|
Discuss Clara’s relationship with each of the following men: Louis Comfort Tiffany, George Waldo, Edwin Waldo, Henry Belknap, and Bernard Booth. Did you feel a special affinity with any of these five men? Why or why not?
How did Clara grow throughout the novel? How did her goals and the perceptions of her role at Tiffany Studios change?
More often than not, women in the workforce during the Victorian era were expected to remain single and employment was terminated upon marriage. Where you surprised by this way of thinking?
Discuss the character of Wilhelmina. What did her situation represent to Clara? Did Clara take on a certain responsibility for her Tiffany girls? What did she feel the girls could gain from their employment at Tiffany Studios?
Purchase Clara and Mr. Tiffany at your favorite bookseller
International best-selling author, Susan Vreeland, is best known for her historical fiction on the lives of artists and their art. She is the author of one of my all-time favorite novels, The Passion of Artemesia.
Other Works by Susan Vreeland
Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…
The Tiffany Girls
Clara Driscoll is located on the far left standing behind chair with white blouse and glasses.
Click the link to the Clara Driscoll Gallery to view the exquisite designs of this thoroughly modern woman.
Beauty is what Nature has lavished upon us as a Supreme Gift.
— LOUIS COMFORT TIFFANY
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