Rating: 4 out of 5.

carnegie’s maid by marie benedict, 354 pp

historical Biographical fiction

I’m happy to introduce Laurie Brown with a guest blog post for Carnegie’s Maid. Laurie and I met through a Facebook reading group with a shared interest in historical fiction. Subsequently, she began to follow my Author page and submitted the correct answer to a March Women’s History Month post where I queried for the name of the statue in a photo (below). As a “prize” I offered Laurie her choice of one of the books I won in a trivia contest. She chose Carnegie’s Maid and kindly agreed to write up a guest review for my blog.

What happens when you assume the identity of someone else – how many years can you live before you end up claiming your true self?  The outcomes are at the heart of this novel with all the main characters pretending to be someone they aren’t.  The protagonist of the story, Clara Kelley, an 18-year-old Irish immigrant, has been sent to the US in the early 1860’s to find work and send money back home to her family.  Upon disembarking the ship, she hears her name called.  Realizing the “real” Clara Kelley must have passed away on the ship, she seizes on her chance to be someone she’s not, and assume the deceased Clara’s role.  This role is a lady’s maid to Mrs. Carnegie – mother to the iron mogul Andrew Carnegie.

Even though Clara has no skills as a lady’s maid, her sharp mind helps her assume the role of being indispensable to the hard-to-please Mrs. C.  As the story progresses, Andrew befriends Clara. He finds her invaluable for sharing tips she overhears daily while playing her role of a servant who is seen and not heard.  Andrew also appreciates her intelligence and the two form a close bond.  However, as servant and master, there is a barrier they cannot cross.  Clara must search her heart for whether she should continue to play her role, which is necessary for the much-needed money she sends home, or does she reveal her true self to the Carnegies, while admitting she and Andrew have feelings for each other? 

As Andrew grapples with a vow to “never be poor again”, he makes unscrupulous business decisions that stab at his soul.  Mrs. C. struggles with feelings of inadequacies among the upper class of society.  Despite her wealthy status, her roots as a poor Scottish lady who cobbled shoes to make ends meet are never far she is never far from her thoughts.

While the character of Clara is fictional, the author used her as the catalyst that caused Carnegie to turn to philanthropy.  Strong writing makes the premise believable.  A quick read with a strong female protagonist, this was an enjoyable read. 


Connecting through Facebook. Making New Friends, Meeting Fellow Readers.

FB POST: Wrapping up Women’s History Month. Look at the cool books I won in the trivia contest during an author Zoom chat. Name the famous woman (center statue) and published poet, political playwright and satirist during the age of the American Revolution and I’ll share one of my prize books with you. Her statue can be found in her hometown / my town of Barnstable MA. Laurie’s Answer: “Okay, I had to Google this because I had no idea. Mercy Otis Warren – interesting lady!”

Check out my other top picks for Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Non-Fiction and Simple Pleasure Reading.

That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.

Jhumpa Lahiri

I invite you to follow my blog for further updates on my journey toward writing my first historical fiction. More information about my debut novel is available on my About page. You can sign up to follow from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I’ll email you an invitation.

I also post book recommendations and tips and ideas for book clubs. I’m on social media, too. On my Facebook page, I post deals I find on Kindle specials ($1.99, $2.99, etc.) for books I recommend. A great way to add to your e-library with minimal costs.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s