Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict is a recently published historical fiction novel. It is a story about a young woman named Clara Kelly who immigrated from Ireland in the 1800’s and arrives in the U.S. during the Civil War.
When Clara departs the boat from Ireland, she has no plans other than to secure employment and a place to live in Philadelphia. A twist of fate occurs when Clara hears someone calling her name at the dock. Confused, she responds and finds herself transported to a woman in Pennsylvania who assumes Clara is another woman with the same name who was scheduled to arrive. Little does the head-hunter imagine that there were two Clara Kellys on the same ship. Sadly, the Clara she’s secured employment for died while in transit.
With no malicious intent, the surviving and confused Clara steps into the dead woman’s identity. Her starving family back in Ireland is depending on her financial assistance.
Clara is placed in the employ of Andrew Carnegie as a personal maid to his mother. She has no clue what’s required of the position, but she fakes her way because Mrs. Carnegie, who came from nothing is faking her way as well.
The rest of the novel has Clara giving business advice to Andrew Carnegie and they fall in love to boot! This was pure fiction of course.
I had high hopes for this novel, but found it disappointing on several levels. I didn’t buy Clara’s ability to step into another’s shoes especially since her rural background in that time frame would probably have produced a much less knowledgeable woman. Her vocabulary was way over that of a poor farm girl from Ireland. I’m not saying she couldn’t be intelligent, it’s more that she probably wouldn’t have been highly educated and worldly.
Sadly, I can’t recommend this novel. It has an interesting premise, but I couldn’t buy it.