Review: Carnegie’s Maid: A Novel, by Marie Benedict. Sourcebooks Landmark.

Book Description (from NetGalley)

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.

My Review:

We are ushered into the world of 1860’s America, walking in the shoes of impoverished Irish immigrant Clara Kelley. Though this is the New World and our freedom-loving USA, we soon realize that this was far from a classless society. I am reminded that many of my ancestors had a similar sea voyage to America from Europe, and I wonder anew at how they survived the rigors of that journey and lived to thrive in their new home.


Woman today largely take for granted the freedoms that we have, but Clara’s story reminds us that it was not always thus. Marie Benedict gives us an eye-opening view of our past. She uses the fictional character of Clara to present the story of Andrew Carnegie, who did so much to endow free libraries for Americans of all classes. This is an absorbing and fascinating read.

My thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review.

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