Another virtual trip to New York--in the pages of Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland. (Check out her site here, though quite out-of-date, it is still chock-full of info, excerpts and artwork). The character of Clara is a wonder--smart, caring, and independent...Especially for the 1900s. I loved Vreelands attention to detail, from the intricately described mosaic patterns and glass-blowing techniques to the clothes Clara and the "Tiffany girls" wore. Though I will say that I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as Luncheon of the Boating Party or The Forest Lover, and my friends have echoed that sentiment.
Diane, a voracious reader friend, told me she "tried to read" the book but lost interest and never finished it. I almost gave up in the first fifty pages too, which I think was the fault of editing, rather than writing. (I also spotted more than a few glaring editorial errors, such as using the word "careening" for "careering" three times!) It never fails that if an author has gained some prominence (been on bestseller lists, won awards) she stops being well edited. Editors begin to fear the author, I guess, which is not good for the author at all...but the one who really suffers is the reader.
However, I'm being picky--big surprise--and I still recommend the book. How many books nowadays deal with a woman finding herself in a man's world, without turning into some sort of tough moll or cop or killer. This character, Clara, is an artists, down to her bones, but she is also a "modern" woman of her time--forced to make hard choices in life and love. And what a character LC Tiffany was; you'll definitely never look at a Tiffany lamp (or window) in the same way again.
Last but not least, I so enjoy New York novels--I loved strolling the familiar streets again, especially with the added attraction of the Gilded Age setting. It was a perfect follow up to Edward Rutherford's New York, The Novel which I enjoyed so much recently.
Here onboard the "Watchfire" (currently moored in beautiful Coronado, California) the latest news is the addition of a canine crew member named "Ready." It has been fun re-learning how to be a dog "owner" not just a dog lover. I'll try to find some dog books for an upcoming post.
4/30/14 RMB April
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