Saturday, April 25, 2015

Book Review: Tiffany Girl

Tiffany GirlAuthor: Deeanne Gist
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Howard Books

From the bestselling author of It Happened at the Fair and Fair Play comes a compelling historical novel about a progressive “New Woman”—the girl behind Tiffany’s chapel—and the love that threatens it all.

As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.

But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the New York Art Institute. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”

Tiffany Girls is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.

As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

Not just for herself, but for her mother and all the other women who didn’t see that men – even the ones who loved them – were very careful to keep the fair sex in a state of objection and complete subservience.

Either way, she would now be what the papers called a New Woman, and what her father called abomination.

She’d have no one to answer to. No one. Not her father. Not her mother. Not even her husband. She wouldn’t just be a New Woman, she’d be a whole new person.

For the past couple of years, I have eagerly awaited the latest Deeanne Gist novel. Each year I have been thoroughly pleased with her books; her book are like a journey back in time for me because of the lengthy research Gist does in order to write accurate details about times long past. This particular story follows a young girl named Flossie Jayne and a reserved, somewhat cynical man named Reeve. The story takes place in the late 19th century and Flossie can be considered a “New Woman” simply trying to make a way for herself in a world that is predominantly ran by men. Mr. Tiffany has lost all of his male workers, and needing to finish a project before time for the World Fair, he hires a lot of women to fill their places. Flossie moves into a boardinghouse, much to the dismay of her parents, and meets Reeve. From there, a beautiful love story blooms and thus you have this wonderful new novel by Gist.

1890’s New York is beautifully written by Gist, as are all of her brilliant historical settings. Everything that is described seems so realistic. This story never dragged a bit for me; Gist writes with ease and her plot stays tight and focused in. Gist adds beautiful drawings at the beginning of some of her chapters, and this gives readers an inside look into some 19th century fashions and some of Mr. Tiffany’s work. I found myself look so forward to those beautiful drawings. Flossie Jayne is another piece of Gist’s handiwork. Her characters are always loveable and passionate about their work and ambitions. This book is real treat that you will not want to miss this spring.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Howard Books in exchange for my honest review***

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