CARNEGIE’S MAID is a pleasant fantasy. A young Irish woman lands in America in the 1860’s and improbably finds herself serving as lady’s maid to the mother of Andrew Carnegie. In the course of her duties, she catches the eye of the businessman himself, to the extent that he not only falls in love with her, but finds her a source of valuable advice in his business dealings.
Realistic? No. Clara Kelley (a borrowed name, at that) is from a poor farming family and should have no clue how to be a lady’s maid, much less how to advise a huge industrialist on patent violations. That this Clara Kelley does both involves a willing suspension of disbelief. If one does that, CARNEGIE’S MAID is an enjoyable read.
The author’s goal, according to the publisher’s blurb, is to suggest, fictitiously, the way in which a ruthless industrialist became one of America’s first philanthropists. It’s a noble cause, but a bit much for me.
Still, as historical fiction goes, CARNEGIE’S MAID is a vividly detailed period piece. The upstairs-downstairs dynamic is fun for a while, until the author’s plotting stumbles.
Though I wasn’t wild about this book, the writing was colorful enough that I would try another by this author.