Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

This was almost one of those books that was going to go in my “just had to put it down” category. As with the novel that Oprah loved so much, The Story of Edger Sawtelle, if I hadn’t been listening to it, I would have stopped. In Ms Vreeland’s defense, she picked a subject that would be hard for anyone to convey in writing: stained glass. Unfortunately, she tried to describe these artistic wonders a bit too often. The lovely variations in the color and the glass itself are just too hard to recreate in ones mind, as I like to do with my stories, so I got tired of trying.

The story is primarily about Clara Driscoll, apparently one of the top women designers in Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained glass studio (not the jewelry Tiffany guy – that’s his father). There is some unknown here in real life, but it is thought, and the author supposes, that Clara came up with the idea and designed many of Tiffany’s famous stain glass lamps shades.

Unfortunately, there is not much that is particularly interesting in Clara’s life and certainly not worth the 13 CD’s worth in the audio version. It could have been pared down by quite a bit. (where was the editor in this story?) The author creates some interest when Clara becomes romantically involved with a man who suddenly disappears, and when the women at the glass shop have to cross a picket line to go to work, but there are many lulls in between. And there is an underlying theme as the title suggests, that there is something, at minimal artistic, going on between Clara and Mr. Tiffany, but as with many parts of the book, it lacks depth and just isn’t convincing.

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