When she steps foot in America, Clara Kelly has little to her name. A poor farmer’s daughter sent from Ireland in hopes that she can make a better life for herself is ill-prepared for what she is about to face. Stuck on the dock with no money for transport to her distant relatives in Pittsburgh, Clara learns quickly that in order to survive in America you have learn how to fight. Assuming the place of another Clara Kelly who’d disappeared on the voyage, she arrives in Pittsburgh and steps into the role of lady’s maid in the Carnegie household.
Desperate for shelter and wages to send money back to her family, Clara quickly acquires the skill and finesse required in her assumed role.
Soon she wins over the matriarch but finds herself lonely in a world caught between the maelstrom of service hierarchy and the malicious society of Pittsburgh’s elite. But when the eldest son, Andrew, forms a friendship with Clara over books, beliefs and intellectual freedom, she finds a lifeline and kindred spirit. But their growing attraction to one another is not only forbidden but built upon a lie.
Being from Pittsburgh, I felt compelled to read this book. Seeing the gorgeous cover, I was drawn to have a hardbound edition in my library. Opening the first page, I was hooked. This treasure of a book by best-selling author Marie Benedict has all the ingredients I crave—history, heartache, romance, survival and dare I say it, a script just itching for the silver screen.
What I especially liked about this book is that it wasn’t predictable, leaving me questioning what Clara’s next move would be as she faced one setback after another. And as fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy, you see the world of this industrialist family illustrated from a servant’s viewpoint, keen with detail and honest coloring. And like all of Benedict’s books, it is well-researched. I’ve read two Andrew Carnegie biographies and learned so much more from this clever and compelling weaving of fiction and fact. If you are a fan of historical fiction, don’t wait another minute to add all of Marie Benedict’s books to your library.
Image courtesy of Sourcebooks