Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Tiffany Girl - Deeanne Gist


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 Art Students League of New York. 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 Girl 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?


I have to admit that the title of this book made me request it for review - I love Tiffany glass. I wasn't too sure if this book was going to be to my liking and I had never read anything by the author before. I also read that Deanne was previously the author of "Christian" books and some of her readers have been shocked by this book.

However, only pages in and I was hooked as one of my other great loves "sewing" was referenced in the book. I'm also very interested in social history and was intrigued to know how things were in America in the late 1880s. 

The author has done a fabulous job of researching the era and that of the social customs of the time. She provides great notes at the front of the book, and at the end of the book the author explains those acts in the book which are a vehicle for the story plot and those which actually happened. I have to say the majority is based on fact and it feels that way when you are reading the book. 

The main character Flossie is a bit of a Pollyanna - she sees the good in everything and of course we know life is not like that and so in some respects I guessed some of what befalls her. This did not detract from the storyline though and I was fascinated with the life of a "new woman" as they were called. Also by the way woman were treated in society. I remember working in a department store in the late 1970s and advising ladies that they needed their husband to come into the store and sign the hire purchase agreement for their new washing machine etc as they could not do so themselves!

What is lovely about the writing is the passion that comes over from the character Flossie and her love for painting and the wonderful coloured glass at the Tiffany factory. There is a little romance in there too - however this is not chick lit and I found it endearing and relevant to the storyline and not at all shocking as some of her readers found it to be.

I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me a little of the films "Meet me in St Louis" and in a more modern setting "You've got Mail". There are some relevant illustrations throughout the book which unfortunately on my kindle didn't show up too well - so maybe a good idea to buy a paper version if you are interested in those, especially as some were commissioned especially for the book.

My thanks go to Netgalley and Howard Books for providing me with a review copy of the book.

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