From the author of The Other Einstein comes the mesmerizing story of love, power, and the woman who inspired an American dynasty.
In the industrial 1860s at the dawn of the Carnegie empire, Irish immigrant Clara Kelly finds herself in desperate circumstances. Looking for a way out, she seeks employment as a lady’s maid in the home of the prominent businessman Andrew Carnegie. Soon, the bond between Clara and her employer deepens into love. But when Clara goes missing, Carnegie’s search for her unearths secrets and revelations that lay the foundation for his lasting legacy.
With capturing insight and sunning heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one lost woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist.
Historical fiction is not my top favorite genre. However for Marie Benedict I like to make an exception. After reading The Other Einstein I was baffled how she is able to entwine historical facts with fictional characters and a plausible story. In Carnegie’s maid she does it again.
Clara Kelly is the daughter of an Irish family. She is send off to America by her family in search of a better future. As by accident her namesake aboard the ship is fatally injured, she is mistakenly seen for the new maid for lady Carnegie.
Clara decides to try her fortune by reinforcing the lies of being the other Clara. She is taken into the household of the Carnegie’s where she learns and grows into the role of the personal maid of lady Carnegie. She also meets Andrew Carnegie, the eldest son of the household.
Clara and Andrew develop a secret relationship, since relationships the maid and the employer are frowned upon in the nineteenth century. But as the situation in Ireland gets worse for Clara’s family, she has a decision to make: will she chose for the welfare of her family or will she pursue her own happiness?
When she realizes that Andrew’s career is taking off, but over the backs of immigrants, she confronts him with his own past. Forced by her own past, Clara does the inevitable to maintain her family’s welfare. And indirectly she probably spurred Andrew’s beliefs and thoughts. Because from a ruthless business man he changed into a philanthropist.
After the story I found myself googling for Andrew Carnegie. Although some of the facts didn’t add up (for instance, he was an only child, whereas he has a brother in the story), it is wonderful to see that there was indeed a remarkable change in him. But it is unclear what fuelled his change. Again Marie has filled the gaps with a believable historical story, where she shows how the important role of strong woman throughout our history is often neglected or not shown. Four out of five stars from me and a special thank you to Netgalley for providing the arc.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Published: January 2018
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥