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Thewanderingjew

Thewanderingjew

Interesting information on Carnegie family rise, but the romance didn't ring true.

Carnegie's Maid: A Novel - Marie Benedict

Carnegie’s Maid, Marie Benedict, author; Alana Kerr Collins, narrator This is the fictional story of Andrew Carnegie and Clara Kelley. When Clara disembarked from the ship taking her to America, as a stranger, with no one to meet her, she was shocked to hear her name called. She was further astounded to discover that there was an opportunity awaiting her as a lady’s maid, to Mrs. Margaret Carnegie, if she assumed the identity of another Clara Kelley, who had also been on board her ship. That poor young woman had died in an accident during the crossing. She shrewdly assumed the identity of that young woman, and although she had no experience or knowledge of the job being offered, and although she had no possessions except for her rucksack, she approached the well dressed stranger who was calling out her name. When he enquired about her luggage, she was quick witted and said it had been lost at sea. First and foremost, our Clara was loyal to her family and getting a job was paramount. She was in America to ensure their survival. So, from the outset, she was embroiled in a lie she had to perpetuate. It would eventually be her undoing, but her family’s salvation. The Carnegies, almost destitute, had come from Scotland to America. Andrew, a quick study, educated himself and had managed to keep his family’s heads above water with hard work and dedication. Eventually, their wealth grew, and they entered the upper class. In the magnificent Carnegie home, Clara and Andrew became good friends, and she seemed to become his muse, after a fashion, inspiring and encouraging his business ventures with her own brilliant ideas. Although their relationship grew deeper, it was kept secret to preserve her position with his mother so she could continue to support her family. Her first responsibility remained her family, and she would not jeopardize her livelihood which was so necessary for their day to day existence. The historic story of Carnegie’s rise in the world of business, his great philanthropy and his enormous wealth is non-fiction and was very interesting, but I found the romance between Andrew and Clara lacking in credibility. The entire relationship between Clara and Andrew took place over approximately four years. Her behavior and his, stretched beyond the realm of believability for me. She seemed out of character for a young lady without formal education, who was from the servant class. In spite of her meager background, she was somehow able to insert herself into the Carnegie home, educate herself, practically overnight, about her responsibilities as a maid, care for Mrs. Carnegie as no other lady’s maid had been able to prior, and then was also the genius behind Andrew Carnegie’s business ventures, future success and acts of kindness. Although Andrew married rather late in life, probably became the richest man in the world, even when compared to the rich of today, although he was a philanthropist of the highest order, I could not imagine such an unrequited romance being the reason. However, the factual information about Carnegie’s rise in the business world and the tales illuminating the dire conditions that had existed in Ireland coupled with the extreme poverty of the immigrants when they arrived in America, only to be subjected to further hardship, was very informative. The narrator did a wonderful job reading the novel, interpreting each character with authenticity. The author’s prose was outstanding and put the reader into the time and place of the novel. Although the fictional tale was unsatisfactory for me, the history was very interesting and the author’s ability to put magic into the words on the page made it a very good read.