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Clara and Mr. Tiffany By Susan Vreeland The best-selling author of The Girl In Hyacinth Blue has produced another historical novel that reveals the people behind the art we all recognize and love.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

By Susan Vreeland

The best-selling author of The Girl In Hyacinth Blue has produced another historical novel that reveals the people behind the art we all recognize and love.

For years, experts had thought that Louis Comfort Tiffany and the male artisans who worked under him were responsible for the beautiful designs of Tiffany lamps. Letters discovered as recently as 2005 revealed that it was actually an unknown woman named Clara Driscoll who was the creative force that developed the Tiffany lamp into a globally recognized symbol.

With her team of young single women, Clara Driscoll dreamed up new designs, selected the best glass pieces possible, and pieced them together into delicate representations of natural life. Her designs won awards at various international exhibitions, but neither she nor the "Tiffany Girls" who

worked with her on the lamps received any credit for them. Louis Comfort Tiffany collected all the accolades for himself.

Using information gleaned from the many voluminous letters written by Clara Driscoll, author Susan Vreeland has woven a historical novel of her life and her artistic ambitions. Readers will clearly learn what life in the early 1900s was like for a female artist. The difficulties faced by women who

could not join unions and the struggle of a talented woman (who simply wanted recognition for her vast contributions to a stained glass empire) are vividly painted by the author.

Some readers may find that while this book is strong on factual details, the characters don't come to life as well as might be expected from an author like Susan Vreeland. Still, the story of the anonymous woman behind a globally recognized piece of art is a fascinating one. Readers will want to search the Internet for photos of the original Tiffany lamps produced by Clara Driscoll, which bear little resemblance to the plain and simple Tiffany-style lamps available in stores today.

Find Clara And Mr. Tiffany on the fiction shelves at the Public Library. It can also be checked out in large print format or as a book on CD.

- Reviewed by Rachel Huston, Marketing & Development Assistant at the Prince

George Public Library

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner

By Fred Pearce

Fred Pearce is a British journalist who has covered science and environmental issues for many years. In Confessions Of An Eco-Sinner, Pearce sets out to find the original source for his "stuff" as well as what happens to it when he is finished with it. Some chapters take Pearce around the world to find the source of the gold in his wedding ring, the metals in his pop can, the green beans for his dinner, and the cotton in his t-shirts.

Other chapters see him travelling to find out what happens to the paper, beer bottles, computers, cell phones and clothes that he no longer needs.

Along the way we are introduced to a number of characters that he meets as he travels and some parts of the narrative are as much about the people as they are about the "stuff". We meet people who grow fair-trade coffee and hear what they have to say about fair-trade. We are introduced to small scale food growers in Africa providing "just in time" produce for Britain; prawn farmers in Bangladesh; and paper recyclers in China. Each of these people and the businesses they are engaged in provide discussion points as to how we in the West consume and what the environmental effects of many of the practices around the world are, both positive and negative.

The overall framework of the book is one of global environmental sustainability and what it looks like in different parts of the world.

Pearce addresses questions such as whether we should continue to airfreight fresh produce in from Africa. Should we be concerned that used clothes that we donate to charity are sold in the marketplaces of Tanzania? What are the ethics of exporting our garbage to China and other third-world countries?

All of these are valid questions and the conclusions that Pearce comes to may surprise many.

In the last three chapters, Pearce looks at urban farming and the greening of our cities, addressing climate change, and world population concerns. He is of the opinion that we can do more to make our cities greener and produce more food within them. He feels that we can reverse many of the effects of climate change and that many of the efforts will be led by the marketplace and corporations, not government. And, he is of the opinion that some of the global population concerns may turn out to be less of a problem than originally thought.

Fred Pearce has written other books (When the Rivers Run Dry and With Speed

and Violence) but readers will find this volume to be less heavy

scientifically and a much easier read. Confessions Of An Eco-Sinner is also Pearce's most positive book when it comes to his view about the future of the earth and humanity. Some of the stories it contains are inspiring and others are upsetting, but overall this work will encourage readers to view

things differently.

- Reviewed by Philip Mantler, Chair of the Prince George Public Library