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.
Book Club Ideas
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
Spoiler Alert: Discussion guide may contain spoilers to the book.
1. How do Clara’s yearnings and goals change during the course of the novel. What personal growth is revealed, and what experiences prompt that growth?
2. At the first Tiffany Ball with Edwin in chapter nine, Clara says, “We straddled a double world.” How does that play out in Clara’s experience? What did she learn from Edwin?
3. Of all of the adjectives Clara and Alice heap on Tiffany in chapter twenty-seven, which ones do you believe are justified and which are exaggerations? In spite of their accusations, Clara says in the same scene that she adores him. How can that be? Did she truly love him? What kind of love was it?
4. How was Clara’s love different for each of the five men in her life? Given that love can sometimes be an indefinable thing, in each case, what prompted her love and how did it change, if at all?
5. Is George Waldo a tragic character? Is Edwin? Is Wilhelmina? How do you define tragic character? Read more . . .
6. Throughout the novel there are social contrasts–rich and poor, suffering and insouciance. Speculate on how these serve to make Clara a more well-rounded or deeper person, as well as how they serve to make the novel transcend the period depicted.
7. Mr. Tiffany makes a surprising final concession in chapter forty-seven. What was it based on? In light of it, should Clara have stayed working at Tiffany Studios? How was her decision right or wrong for her?
8. How is the Brooklyn Bridge an icon or symbol of the time? Consider its style, the construction process, the men and woman who worked on it. You may have to do a little research. Why was Edwin so moved by it? What other material things were symbols of the time? In what way were Tiffany lamps icons of the time?
9. The style and sensibility that had no name at the turn of the century came to be known as camp, one element of which is seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon and then exaggerating it. Another element of it is the playful duplicity of which Henry Belknap speaks. What art movements, artists, or pieces of art in your lifetimes reflect the camp sensibility? Do you own anything with camp sensibility? Oscar Wilde, spokesperson of high camp, said, “In matters of great importance, the vital element is not sincerity, but style.” To what extent do you hold this to be true? Was he just being flippant by making this statement or is there any truth to it?
10. The protagonists of two other novels of mine are female artists. How do Clara’s goals, obstacles, and attitudes compare with those of Artemisia Gentileschi and Emily Carr? Has anything changed for women in the arts?
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
More on Clara and Mr. Tiffany
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
Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party for ? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.