The Midwest Book Mom Presents: Carnegie's Maid - Book Review
Book Rating: ★ ★ ★.5
For all who adore the exquisite television series of “Downton Abbey”, may I present to you Marie Benedict’s “Carnegie’s Maid.”
Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She's not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh's grandest households. She's a poor farmer's daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home.
If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady's maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn't have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does have is a resolve as strong as the steel Pittsburgh is becoming famous for, coupled with an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can't let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future -- and her family's.
With captivating insight and heart, Carnegie's Maid tells the story of one brilliant woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie's transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world's first true philanthropist.
I found the setting of Carnegie’s Maid cultivating, filled with historical backgrounds and the adaptation of the 1860’s. Many have commented on the “upstairs, downstairs” relating it similar to “Downton Abbey” but I wanted to point out something else. Benedict wrote various transfixed scenes portraying Clara Kelley’s travel across the Atlantic Ocean. Benedict delivers specific details down to the name of the ship called the Envoy. I liked how there was enough details to leave readers with the since of what the Irish immigrants were experiencing during the 1860’s. Benedict’s historical settings left me wanting to learn more about this time period.
Something else I enjoyed was the point of view. Benedict chose to write the story through the point of view of Clara Kelley which makes you feel connected to her character. The reader is seeing everything Clara’s experiencing from the landing at the docks to the Carnegie’s grand home. This means the reader learns about Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie family through Clara. It was intriguing to see this perspective about the young Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie family. I liked experiencing how Clara felt about the family as they were becoming one of the “tycoons of America” especially when Andrew reveals how they were once immigrants themselves. When Clara becomes the lady’s maid for Andrew’s mother, Clara and Andrew begin to develop a private relationship. Andrew becomes attracted to Clara’s intelligence and her educated upbringing she received from her father. It was a refreshing love story seeing how they connected.
“My afternoons with him were the only moments of authenticity in a world brimming with artifice. Minutes where I could build a pathway to hope.”
This is my opinion, so take it as you please. Benedict’s writing did flow smoothly throughout the story making it easy to imagine. Most of the time, I was wondering if Clara was going to choose a life with Andrew regardless of the status quo of her being a lady’s maid and Andrew being of wealth. I was immersed in the beginning of the story. There were some places where the story slowed down but picks up speed towards the end when Clara risks it all for her family and her love for Andrew. Then suddenly, it’s over, and it felt a little hasty. Overall, I was fond of this story, and I want to read more of Marie Benedict’s novels.
Did you know local libraries hold book club kits? This book was a book club read thanks to the book club kits provided by the West Des Moines Public Library. If you want to start a book club on a friendly budget, check out your local library and see if they carry book club kits in your area. My book club absolutely LOVES it because the books are free! Only thing we worry about is who’s bringing wine to the next meeting.