Title: Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist
Publisher: Howard Books
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 544 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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 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?
Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist is another delightfully charming and meticulously researched historical novel set against the backdrop of the Chicago World’s Fair. This story takes place in New York and focuses on the “Tiffany Girls”-the women hired by Louis Tiffany to complete the stained glass windows for his exhibit for the World’s Fair after the male workers go on strike.
Flossie Jayne is a typical young woman of the time period who is expected to marry and raise a family. Her discontent over having to hand all of her earnings to her father coincides with the newly changing roles of women in society so she eagerly accepts the opportunity to work for Tiffany. In order to keep her salary, she moves into a respectable boardinghouse where she immediately shakes things up by engaging her fellow boarders in playful activities. The only person who refuses to participate in the nightly parlor games is Reeve Wilder, a reporter for one of the local papers. Reeve is a traditional man of the times and he is not in favor of women entering the workforce.
Flossie is sheltered and naive but she has a good heart. Her parents adore her and they effusively praise her artistic endeavors. Flossie is a hard worker but she is a little surprised by how slowly she moves through the Tiffany Girl ranks. Her innocence is endearing, but this becomes her greatest weakness as her lack of experience leaves her vulnerable to exploitation.
Reeve is a bit standoffish and keeps to himself. He is also a bit cynical and at first, he finds Flossie annoying and pushy. Reeve cannot help but be concerned for her but his warnings to not be so trusting fall on deaf ears. Although the pair form an unlikely friendship, both of them have some growing up to do before they can take their relationship to the next level.
Once again, one of the best parts of reading a novel by Deeanne Gist is how she incorporates history into the plot. With Tiffany Girl, she changes the setting but she still utilizes the Chicago World’s Fair to gently educate readers about a little known piece of history. The resulting story is informative and quite fascinating, but it is the richly developed cast of characters that brings this enchanting tale vibrantly to life. They are multi-dimensional with relatable flaws and their experiences throughout the novel provide them the opportunity to grow and mature. While there is a romantic element to the storyline, it is very understated. An absolutely marvelous novel that fans of historical fiction are sure to enjoy.