What happens when you combine a funloving, chattery, aspiring artist with a cynical, traditional, journalist? Well, when you throw in Louis Comfort Tiffany and the era of the New Woman and when Deeanne Gist is at the helm, you have a recipe for a story that will keep you engaged from the first word to the last!
Book Description: 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?
My Review: There are a couple of things you can always expect from Deeanne Gist’s books – wonderfully strong heroines and wonderfully swoony heroes. Tiffany Girl delivers both in Flossie and Reeve. I loved Flossie’s earnestness in everything she did, whether it was her art, her job, or her desire to turn the lonely taciturn residents of her boardinghouse into a family. Even though she’s a bit of an impulsive chatterbox, even that part of her personality is earnest and sincere – turning what could be an irritating characteristic into something that makes her even more endearing to those around her. Well. For the most part, anyway 🙂
Which brings us to Reeve. Crusty, closed-off, traditional Reeve. He shares a wall with Flossie – a thin wall – at the boardinghouse and therefore is subjected more than most to her magpie chattering. He is the most resistant to her changes, both at the house and in the world, preferring women to stick to their time-honored roles of home and hearth instead of traipsing through the work force like men. Slowly but surely, though, Flossie starts to worm her way into his heart like she does everyone else and there, my reader friends, we have the setup for romantic conflict at its best! Never fear, however, because we all know what happens in the heat (and resolution) of conflict: KISSES! And however broody he may be, Reeve can kiss! Can I get an Amen? (Amen.) Plus, we find out later that the man does have a quite romantic side to him after all. *dreamy sigh* (You knew that sigh was going to show up at some point.)
I so loved this book – the theme reminded me in many ways of Pride and Prejudice but with all the delightful twists and touches that only Deeanne Gist can bring to a story. The characters come alive on the page, and the settings are so real that you feel as if you are there holding the glass in your own hands or sitting around the table answering Flossie’s questions with the other residents of 438. I also developed a new appreciation for what women had to go through to join the workforce back then – way beyond just some mild discrimination. The New Woman was truly a determined pioneer for women today, and for that reason alone you should read this book. Plus the kissing. That’s always a good reason 😉
Deeanne has created a fun little quiz to see which Tiffany Girl character you are. I got Flossie! “You are a bold trailblazer who doesn’t conform to societal norms. Like Flossie, you are strong-headed, fun-loving and kind.” So there you go. (No comments from my husband or parents or brother about the strong-headed part. I realize that one’s not true. Haha!)
You can take the quiz for yourself here: Tiffany Girl quiz
I give Tiffany Girl 4.5 out of 5 stars!!! Excellent book!! Get your copy now at Amazon.
(I received a copy of the book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.)
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