Hanging out with my book club friends is always the highlight of my month. It was my turn to host and I choose Clara and Mr Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.
Who do you think designed all those gorgeous Tiffany lamps? For over a hundred years, we thought it was Mr. Tiffany, but it is more likely that is was a women named Clara Driscoll. This is a fascinating work of historical fiction that explores the rights of women as well as the inspiration and creative processes involved in creating those beautiful lamps. There's even a little romance and intrigued thrown in for good measure. I give the book a solid 4 out of 5 stars.
I have a family member who has the most beautiful retirement fund EVER! Instead of tying up all their money in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, they have dedicated a portion of their savings to antique Tiffany lamps. For now, their home is full of beautiful pieces of art, and someday they can sell them off and retire. I enjoyed this story more b/c of them.
Here's some discussion questions:
*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. Of all of the adjectives Clara and Alice heap on Tiffany in chapter twenty-seven (page 226), which ones do you believe are justified and which are exaggerations?
*3. How was Clara’s love different for each of the five men in her life?
d. Mr. Tiffany
*4. Is George Waldo a tragic character? Is Edwin? Is Wilhelmina? How do you define tragic character?
*5. 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.
*6. 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?
*7.“Mrs. Tiffany is a marvel of the double standard. She can give attention to a tenement mother’s hygienic needs in the morning, and spend enough at Delmonico’s that evening to feet that mother’s family for a year.” (p74) thoughts?
8. Why is there little mention of her mother and sisters
9. Why do you think that the women were only permitted to see the windows if they snuck into the men’s department?
10. ‘It just hurts to be anonymous” Would it bother you more not to get credit for something or that someone else claimed all the credit?
11. What do you think about the following statement: “Such care God took to design so dramatic a creature, and yet so restrained. He was, not to let humans see it often. Maybe he was offering a lesson about the value of the uncommon. (p 146)
12. What roll did Women’s rights play in the story?
* I stole these question from the author's website: http://www.svreeland.com/tiff.html
It is a great site with more info and lots of pictures.
What books have you read in your book club lately?