by Deeanne Gist (Goodreads Author)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: 10/10
With this book, Ms. Gist is officially one of my favorite authors. One that I will wait impatiently for and preorder books months before they're released. This was not luck; this was not lightning striking twice. This was carefully researched, lovingly crafted. Though it saddens me that I can only expect one of her brilliant novels per year, as this book points out, quality is worth waiting for.
In my opinion, there is a large gap between the style of books that she used to write and the ones that are in this series. I am aware that she "switched publishers and went secular". That's not the change I'm referring to. Side note: apparently not being published by a Christian publisher means that you and your work are no longer Christian. (<- heavy sarcasm people) This could have been done for a million different reasons and all I really have to say about it is that I think Christian themes, questions, challenges etc, would have only made this book stronger.
But I digress. If you loved her previous novel, you will love this book too. This book deals with something I had wished for before: an average heroine. And better yet, she doesn't realize it until halfway through. So much to love. I loved the raw honesty, even the honest delusions. I loved that Ms. Gist gave her characters time apart (and didn't waste too much of the readers time in the process) and gave them reservations. I loved that I understood and agreed with where both of them were coming from. But the thing I loved the most was the growth. I loved the changes. I loved the maturity and the humility. I loved that Flossie made mistakes. So many mistakes, that anyone else could have easily made. I loved that she learned from them and became better for them. I loved that she was annoying sometimes. I loved that, through Reeve's eyes, we could love her anyway.
Wonderful characters and a wonderful storyline. What more could you want? Well for me, a heavy dose of time travel. Once again, Ms. Gist has so thoroughly researched and seamlessly written history into her pages that I found myself back in 1893. Fascinating. I thought I had been so immersed in her last book that I was pretty familiar with that year. Nope. Still so much to uncover. Oh and her author's notes are... ah just, again, fascinating for a history geek like me.
The only thing that I didn't get was Nan. I never understood why she balked at Flossie's mention of friendship. Or why she seemed personally out to put/keep her down. I didn't understand Elizabeth was called instead of Flossie; didn't they just say it was teams? Why didn't Flossie speak up and say, "um, actually, I'm Nan's partner?" And why was Nan so upset that she refused to join Flossie at the end of the speech? I didn't get hung up on these points but if I ever got the chance, I would ask the author for clarity. Other than those few minor issues, there's nothing lacking.
There are some who won't like this book because they're boycotting or very sensitive to any kind of written intimacy. I would just like to remind you though, that whatever your comfort level, that doesn't make a wedding night scene unbiblical. If that is your opinion, I suggest you read your Bible again and pay closer attention to Song of Solomon (aka Song of Songs). What God created between husband and wife is beautiful. It is glorifying to Him. The brief scene was not at all graphic. On the contrary, it was very tasteful and sweet.
I can't wait until this book is officially released and I can get a copy for my mantle, because this is a book I will want to read again and again. In the meantime, I will be checking out some of the references Ms. Gist mentioned at the back of the book, in particular: A New Light On Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls (http://www.amazon.com/New-Light-Tiffany-Clara-Driscoll/dp/1904832350)