Book Review: Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

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My latest book review is of Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict.

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. (Thanks Netgalley)

Firstly I must confess to not having read The Other Einstein – however when I saw the synopsis for this novel I knew that I had to read it.  It’s been a little while since I’ve indulged in my love of historical fiction, and I was excited to get stuck into Carnegie’s Maid.  My usual historical fiction preferences often centre around the 1930’s and 1940’s, so I was looking forward to branching out – I was not disappointed.

I know very little about American history, or important figures in American history – my passion is for British history and the monarchy.  It was therefore nice to read about a time in American history that I know very little about.  For this reason I am unable to comment on any of the factual historical events that are referred to within the novel.  I know that Andrew Carnegie existed, so I like the idea that Marie Benedict used a real person in American history, and made his story her own by creating a reason for him becoming the philanthropist he is eventually known to be.

Clara Kelly may be a fictional character, but her plight to save her family in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine is very real.  With the death of more than one million people, the famine was devastating to so many Irish families, and Clara’s emigration to America was a very viable option.  Weaving a fictional story amongst so much fact cannot be easy, however I really felt that Marie Benedict achieved this seamlessly: Fact and fiction become one, with the lines between the two barely visible.  Clara’s predicament really resonates with the reader as she is left with secrets to hide, a love that she truly wants to blossom and a family that she desperately wants to save.

The journey that both Clara and Andrew embark on is a beautiful one, and the setting they do it within only highlights the difficulties of these journeys all the more.  I wanted them both to succeed, and I wanted them to do it together.  This is such a lovely novel, and it has encouraged me to find out more about this industrial period in America’s history, as well as to learn more about the issues faced by the Irish in such a bleak period of their history.  I highly recommend this novel, and I will be reading The Other Einstein in the not too distant future.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖 📗

Thank you to Netgalley, Marie Benedict and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

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