Carnegie’s Maid

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book.jpgMarie Benedict imagines Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy to have been inspired by a woman in her latest historical novel, Carnegie’s Maid. In this case, it is his mother’s personal maid who ultimately has quite the effect on Carnegie’s view of monetary success. Clara Kelley has survived the forty plus days at sea on her way from Ireland to America in the late 1860’s. She is eager to find work to support her family’s dwindling income, and with some luck, takes a position as a lady’s maid in Pittsburgh. The lady happens to be Margaret Carnegie, the mother of Andrew and Thomas Carnegie. Benedict develops the character of Clara to be of equal intelligence to Andrew, despite the current disparity of their social standing and gender. She paints a vivid portrayal of the glaring inequalities of the haves and the have-nots, both in wealth, social class and gender, during the 1860’s. The reader gets a glimpse of the unfairness of tenant farming in Ireland in that period, as well as the poverty of newly arriving immigrants to America, and the huge imbalance in power between male and female. An entertaining and informative read; I highly recommend this for fans of historical novels.

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