Thursday, December 28, 2017

Coming Soon!

From the author of The Other Einstein, the mesmerising tale of what kind of woman could have inspired an American dynasty. Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home.
If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills she doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does have is a resolve as strong as the steel Pittsburgh is becoming famous for, coupled with an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future—and her family’s. With captivating insight and heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one brilliant woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist.

Conversations with the Author

Andrew Carnegie is a well-known historical figure who many may feel they
already know. What challenges did you face when writing Carnegie as a more well-rounded character? What preconceptions did you have to overcome? Many people are familiar with Andrew Carnegie’s reputation as a ruthless businessman, especially the role he may have played in the Homestead Strike of 1892, which grew out of a conflict between the Carnegie Steel Company and the iron and steel workers’ union. And while that reputation is certainly deserved and I do delve into the questionable practices behind the astonishing growth of his
businesses— his insider trading in particular—I hope I fleshed out other aspects of the man behind the icon: his relationship with his mother and brother, the singular nature of his intellect and ascent, the kindnesses of which he could be capable, and, importantly for my story, the sense of obligation he developed to immigrants less fortunate than himself.

How would you describe Carnegie and Clara’s relationship? 
I envisioned Clara as a female version of Andrew, in some ways. Like Andrew, she is a very bright but uneducated immigrant who is searching for ways to climb above her allocated station at a particular moment in American history when such ascent is possible. This similarity attracts them to each other, but ultimately, it is the differences in their drives—avarice and greed for its own sake (and his mother and brother) motivates him as a young man, while she is propelled by her duty toward the family she left behind in Ireland—that creates a wedge between them.

Which character did you connect with more, Carnegie or Clara? Which was the greater challenge to write? 
I definitely connected more with Clara, particularly because I felt like I knew women like her. The grandmothers and great-aunts that I knew were all intelligent and outside-the-box thinkers, determined to advance themselves and their families by any means necessary. Scrappy, just like Clara. Carnegie was more of a challenge because I’d always thought of him in his guise as an older, esteemed industrialist, not as a young man. I enjoyed digging his younger self out of the past and trying to discover what made him into the unique person he was— finding the man instead of the myth.


Praise for Carnegie’s Maid

"[an] excellent historical novel." -Publishers Weekly

"Feels like Downton Abbey in the United States...Benedict demonstrates the relevance of history to the present day in this impeccably researched novel of the early immigrant experience. Deeply human, and brimming with complex, vulnerable characters, Carnegie’s Maid shows the power of ambition tempered by altruism, and the true realization of the American Dream." -Erika Robuck, national bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl

"In Carnegie’s Maid, Marie Benedict skillfully introduces us to Clara, a young woman who immigrates to American in the 1860s and unexpectedly becomes the maid to Andrew Carnegie's mother. Clara becomes close to Andrew Carnegie and helps to make him America's first philanthropist. Downton Abbey fans should flock to this charming tale of fateful turns and unexpected romance, and the often unsung role of women in history." -Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan's Tale

"With its well-drawn characters, good pacing, and excellent sense of time and place, this volume should charm lovers of historicals, romance, and the Civil War period. Neither saccharine nor overly dramatized, it's a very satisfying read."     -Library Journal

"...engaging. The chaste romance will draw readers of inspirational fiction, while the novel is constructed to appeal to those seeking a tale with an upstairs-downstairs dynamic and all-but-invisible female characters who are either the impetus for or the actual originators of great men's great ideas. For Fans of Liz Trenow, Erika Robuck, and Nancy Horan." -Booklist

"Marie Benedict has penned a sensational novel that turns the conventional Cinderella story into an all-American triumph. Young Clara Kelley steps off the boat from Ireland into Andrew Carnegie's affluent world, where invention can transform men and women into whatever they dare to dream." -Sarah McCoy, New York Times and international bestselling author of The Mapmaker's Children and The Baker's Daughter

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