Tuesday, May 5, 2015

**Pick of the Litter** Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist

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?

Type: Historical Fiction
Heat: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars **Pick of the Litter**

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Breathtakingly beautiful. It's not often that a novel leaves me stunned. Where I find myself closing the book and looking around the room with tears in my eyes wondering what in the world I'm going to do with myself next because I've just read something so overwhelmingly moving I'm simply stunned trying to process all of the emotions it's ripped out of me. Tiffany Girl..joined the ranks of the elite few that left me completely spent and raised the bar to near impossible heights for any future reads. Even weeks later as I'm sitting here editing this post one last time it has me fighting back tears just thinking about Flossie and everything she went through.

The quick of it is that Flossie has left home after the men working on a stained glass chapel for the Chicago World's Fair go on strike and the Tiffany Company decides to hire women to finish the display. She wants to follow her passions, make her own decisions and not have the men in her life rule every aspect of it. So she takes that leap. She becomes a Tiffany Girl. Moving into a boarding home, deciding to work and learning skills that very few women were allowed to explore. And maybe falls for a man living at her boarding home in the process. A man who is very outspoken about women staying in traditional roles and adamant that women like Flossie must be stopped.
Mrs. Dinwiddie put two lumps of sugar into her cup, none in his. "She's been a breath of fresh air."

"She's been a stench in our nostrils."

Mrs. Dinwiddie handed him his cup. "It's as if spring has come early and filled the entire house."

"It's as if the Antichrist has come and hypnotized the entire bunch of you."
Flossie was delightful and lovely and someone I wholeheartedly wish was real. She's a young woman taking her first steps into the world and she's innocent and naive but has such a spirit about her you can't help but smile and adore her. Her journey was so hard and could be heartbreaking as she learned hard lessons, was hurt and had her eyes opened to the realities of the world.

And Reeve. He was a man who had just as much to learn from meeting Flossie. And his journey was just as touching and heartbreaking. I loved seeing his battles and how knowing Flossie changed him little by little.

The romance was beautiful as well. These two start off on such opposite sides of everything and have a very rough go at first. But it almost made their journey all the better. Their romance was incredible and made me ache for them as they slowly found their way to each other. And here's where I'll shock. This is a clean romance. There's a little kissing and tension between them but nothing more than that. But I loved it.
"Pull her a bit closer, Wilder, you look like you're dancing with your maiden aunt." Holliday's voice was muffled beneath the shroud.

Reeve pulled her close.


He pulled her against him.


Amen to that.
There was a lot happening in Tiffany Girl. It takes place over a couple years as Flossie joins the Tiffany Girls in creating a stained glass chapel for the Chicago Worlds Fair. As Reeve works at his newspaper and begins writing fiction as well as opinion pieces and those pieces start to change as he gets to know the real New Women (women like Flossie who were working and making their own decisions). As the two grow close and then everything falls apart and they go their separate ways. Through job losses and betrayals and having to start over. It had me reeling as I turned the pages and watched their lives unfold. As I read the struggles of Flossie and the other women who were searching for a little independence and dealt with a society that looked down on them and treated them horribly because of it. I can't imagine life back then. How hard it would have been to be a woman with so few choices. I found myself in tears multiple times and just staggered by these women and the strength they had to keep going day after day.

This is historical fiction which is different than your typical historical romance. It's based on real life facts and events. Some of the people in the story were real, locations and events actually happened but liberties taken with the story as well. So it's very different in feel compared to historical romance. I loved that history though. It was fascinating and has me so curious about the time and everything that happened then. It really brought the story a new layer of life knowing so many bits were based in reality.

Tiffany Girl left me completely wrecked but in the most stunningly amazing way. From page one everything about it grabbed hold of me and just wouldn't let go. The journey, the romance, the characters and everything about them just touched me deeply. Gist has an amazing talent that really must be experienced. If you only pick up one book I recommend this year...this is the one to grab. No question. It was an experience I'll not soon forget.  

**This one is a little expensive but I think worth every penny. I'll be buying a hard copy actually. I have a print arc but it didn't have the photos or author note in them and that's something I very much want. There are photos included with lots of the chapters of buildings and places and people that are real and I've loved those in previous reads. 

Do you have a historical fiction recommendation?
Have you heard of the Tiffany Girls?
What was the last book that left you completely floored?

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