STARRED REVIEW
January 2018

Behind every great man . . .

By Marie Benedict

Following The Other Einstein, her debut novel about Albert Einstein’s first wife, author Marie Benedict once again centers a stirring historical tale on a one-of-a-kind woman. In Carnegie’s Maid, Benedict creates a fictional woman who influences Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from industrial tycoon to the creator of thousands of free lending libraries, resulting in an imaginative story of forbidden love and the injustice of social classes.

Share this Article:

Following The Other Einstein, her debut novel about Albert Einstein’s first wife, author Marie Benedict once again centers a stirring historical tale on a one-of-a-kind woman. In Carnegie’s Maid, Benedict creates a fictional woman who influences Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from industrial tycoon to the creator of thousands of free lending libraries, resulting in an imaginative story of forbidden love and the injustice of social classes.

Clara Kelley, an immigrant farm girl from Ireland, arrives in industrial 1860s Pittsburgh and expects to work in a mill to support her family back home. Instead, just off the ship, she assumes the identity of a different Clara Kelley, a second-class passenger who did not make the voyage, and finds herself the lady’s maid to Andrew Carnegie’s mother. Using her quick wit and family-taught education, Clara soon becomes indispensable, but she endangers her position by forming an ever-deepening relationship with Andrew, learning his business secrets and sharing ideas.

Benedict evokes the time period through her graceful writing style, which can seem stiff at first but soon immerses readers in “Downton Abbey”-esque drama. With meticulous historical detail, the luxury of the Carnegies’ world is juxtaposed with the destitution of the poor, as Clara balances her place among the elite while sympathizing with her family, sending money to them overseas and bringing her cousins food on her scarce holidays.

Though Clara is fictional, it’s as important as ever to have stories of the strong women behind men, reminding us of the invisible feminists throughout history.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Carnegie’s Maid

Carnegie’s Maid

By Marie Benedict
Sourcebooks Landmark
ISBN 9781492646617

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!