Why This Book
I saw this show up on NetGalley and wanted to read something about the Carnegie family. I’ve been on a hunt to read/learn more about all the “tycoons” of America, curious about all the connections between them. I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction, so I requested this one and was approved. I picked it up last month because of a trip to the Vanderbilt Estate, even though it’s a different family. Wanted to immerse myself in the culture before the trip.
Plot, Characters & Setting
Andrew Carnegie, a leading member of one of America’s tycoon families, has settled in Pittsburgh with his mother and brother. A woman who leaves Ireland to help earn money to send her family back home, learns that the lady’s maid hired for Mrs. Carnegie has died during the Atlantic voyage. She takes her place and becomes Clara Kelly, despite not having all the knowledge a lady’s maid should have. She learns quickly, befriends some of the other staff, even fights with a few. Over time, she convinces everyone she is a good maid, but there is much more to her than they realize; she’s got strong business acumen and become a confidante of sorts to Mrs. Carnegie’s son, Andrew. Their relationship grows and begins to cause a few folks to question what is going on in the Carnegie household. This is a story about the relationship between the Carnegie family and their staff, love between two unexpected souls and the vicious rules of society.
Approach & Style
I read the Kindle version on my iPad over 3 days. It is about 250 pages with short chapters, told from the perspective of Mrs. Carnegie’s maid during the 1860s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, America.
The story is simple and complex, quite beautifully told from the maid’s perspective. Only she’s so much more than a maid, and you can hear every bit of pain and love in her voice. Benedict does a fantastic job at transporting us to the setting of the story, which makes it a strong connection. It’s a slow-build to see and feel the love, but quite believable.
I learned a bit about how Carnegie grew to fame and fortune. The book has made me curious to know how much of this story is true, hence why I am on the lookout for a biography on him and the family. A good author makes that happen… thanks, Ms. Benedict!
We only see a glimpse (less than ten years) of the life between these characters, then it jumps to when they are much older. I loved seeing a future glance rather than everything that happened over the years after Andrew and Clara met. Usually I don’t like missing details, but in this story, it worked quite well.
The writing is a little clunky at times; sometimes it’s as it should be, given the story takes place 150 years ago. But on a few occasions, I thought simpler phrases or imagery would have helped with the complexity in the differences between the time period and today.
Author & Other Similar Books
This is the author’s second book, as she has a debut titled ‘The Other Einstein.’ I don’t know a lot about it, but I am curious to check out the description to see if it’s something I’d want to read.
I read a bunch of historical fiction and have encountered books like this before; however, seeing it about a famous American family, and learning of a potential ‘hidden’ relationship, was different and exciting.
Good read. Quick. Informative. I liked the style. Characters well-drawn. Matches the style of the time period. Overall, better than average.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.