From the author of The Other Einstein, the mesmerizing tale of what kind of woman could have inspired an American dynasty.
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..
Andrew Carnegie’s impetus to take up philanthropy is explored in this excellent historical novel. Benedict (The Other Einstein) begins with Carnegie’s letter to himself from December 1868, in which he pledges most of his fortune “for benevolent purposes.” The story then turns to farmer’s daughter Clara Kelley, who travels in steerage from Ireland; upon landing in Philadelphia in 1863, she is mistaken for an identically named fellow passenger who has died during the passage. Desperate to improve her family’s fortune, she assumes the other Clara’s place as a lady’s maid to the formidable Margaret Carnegie, mother to brothers Andrew and Tom. Clara’s education and sharp wit allow her to carry off the deception and, indeed, her intellect brings her to Andrew’s attention. She earns his respect and even affection, but differences in status make any prospect of a relationship unlikely. While there are elements of Cinderella, Benedict doesn’t let herself or her characters stray from historical realities. The true reason for Carnegie’s transformation from industrialist to builder of libraries for all remains a mystery, but Benedict’s imagination supplies a delightful possibility. Agent: Laura Dail, Laura Dail Literary Agency. (Jan.)Correction: An earlier version of this review misspelled the name of the author's agent.
"Feels like Downton Abbey in the United States...Benedict demonstrates the relevance of history to the present day in this impeccably researched novel of the early immigrant experience. Deeply human, and brimming with complex, vulnerable characters, CARNEGIE'S MAID shows the power of ambition tempered by altruism, and the true realization of the American Dream." - Erika Robuck, national bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl
"In CARNEGIE'S MAID, Marie Benedict skillfully introduces us to Clara, a young woman who immigrates to American in the 1860s and unexpectedly becomes the maid to Andrew Carnegie's mother. Clara becomes close to Andrew Carnegie and helps to make him America's first philanthropist. Downton Abbey fans should flock to this charming tale of fateful turns and unexpected romance, and the often unsung role of women in history." - Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan's Tale
"With its well-drawn characters, good pacing, and excellent sense of time and place, this volume should charm lovers of historicals, romance, and the Civil War period. Neither saccharine nor overly dramatized, it's a very satisfying read. " - Library Journal
"Marie Benedict has penned a sensational novel that turns the conventional Cinderella story into an all-American triumph. Young Clara Kelley steps off the boat from Ireland into Andrew Carnegie's affluent world, where invention can transform men and women into whatever they dare to dream." - Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children and The Baker's Daughter
"[an] excellent historical novel." - Publishers Weekly
"...engaging. The chaste romance will draw readers of inspirational fiction, while the novel is constructed to appeal to those seeking a tale with an upstairs-downstairs dynamic and all-but-invisible female characters who are either the impetus for or the actual originators of great men's great ideas. For Fans of Liz Trenow, Erika Robuck, and Nancy Horan. " - Booklist
"In spare prose, Wilson ratchets up the horror spawned by obsession to a bloody end. For those who tolerate intense, sometimes graphic fiction, this is mesmerizing." - BooklistFrom the Publisher
In 1863, Clara Kelley, a farm girl from County Galway, sails to America to procure employment, hoping to send money back to her impoverished family in Ireland. When she answers a call for a girl of the same name who perished aboard ship, Clara quickly assumes the identity of this unfortunate, which leads her to obtaining a better position than she could have hoped: lady's maid to Mrs. Carnegie, mother of the successful, talented businessman Andrew Carnegie. Clara quickly renders herself indispensable to her employer. However, her good sense and intelligence come to the notice of Andrew, and a bond formed over talk of commerce turns to a deeper affection. Unfortunately, Mrs. Carnegie learns of Clara's true origins. Can Andrew's love withstand learning her secret—or should Clara simply leave it all behind? Benedict's (The Other Einstein) second novel captures the rush of industry that accompanied the American Civil War and the men like Andrew Carnegie, who were truly self-made. VERDICT With its well-drawn characters, good pacing, and excellent sense of time and place, this volume should charm lovers of historicals, romance, and the Civil War period. Neither saccharine nor overly dramatized, it's a very satisfying read.—Pamela O'Sullivan, Coll. at Brockport Lib., SUNY