Kristin Maloney recently enjoyed Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict, a compelling novel of historical fiction that is said to be a good choice for fans of Downton Abbey. The following is Kristin's review:

In this charming tale, Marie Benedict returns with another imaginative novel exploring the perspective that a woman was the main influence behind one of America’s greatest philanthropists. What if Andrew Carnegie fell in love with a young servant? Would it change our view and opinion of this historical magnate? And what if that servant so profoundly influenced him that he would transform from industrial tycoon to a man dedicated to spending his vast wealth on charitable endeavors, such as building free lending libraries for average people? It would take quite an intelligent woman to win the heart and mind of such a powerful man, but is it feasible for a poor farmer’s daughter from Ireland to achieve this?

This story begins with Clara Kelly boarding a ship to America and leaving her struggling family behind. Their survival depends on her ability to find a job once she is off the ship however hard that may be. In a startlingly yet lucky turn of events, Clara finds herself hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. Serving as a lady’s maid in the wealthy household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills that Clara has never dreamed of needing, and being surrounded by such refined wealth really has this country girl off balance. She is a determined girl though and is focused on doing her absolute best in order to earn wages to keep her family afloat back home. Clara Kelly is a brilliant character who is smart, vivacious and full of heart. You will immediately fall for her, much like Andrew Carnegie did himself. This novel was a true pleasure to read since it combines a graceful writing style with immense historical details. In summary, even though Clara is fictional, it’s important to have stories that remind us of strong women throughout history that were major influences behind the scenes, in the lives of some champions of industry.  

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