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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

The Glass Room
Publisher: Other Press
ISBN: 1590513967
Pages: 416 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/World War II
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:
Honeymooners Viktor and Liesel Landauer are filled with the optimism and cultural vibrancy of central Europe of the 1920s when they meet modernist architect Rainer von Abt. He builds for them a home to embody their exuberant faith in the future, and the Landauer House becomes an instant masterpiece.  Viktor and Liesel, a rich Jewish mogul married to a thoughtful, modern gentile, pour all of their hopes for their marriage and budding family into their stunning new home, filling it with children, friends, and a generation of artists and thinkers eager to abandon old-world European style in favor of the new and the avant-garde. But as life intervenes, their new home also brings out their most passionate desires and darkest secrets. As Viktor searches for a warmer, less challenging comfort in the arms of another woman, and Liesel turns to her wild, mischievous friend Hana for excitement, the marriage begins to show signs of strain. The radiant honesty and idealism of 1930 quickly evaporate beneath the storm clouds of World War II. As Nazi troops enter the country, the family must leave their old life behind and attempt to escape to America before Viktor's Jewish roots draw Nazi attention, and before the family itself dissolves. 

As the Landauers struggle for survival abroad, their home slips from hand to hand, from Czech to Nazi to Soviet possession and finally back to the Czechoslovak state, with new inhabitants always falling under the fervent and unrelenting influence of the Glass Room. Its crystalline perfection exerts a gravitational pull on those who know it, inspiring them, freeing them, calling them back, until the Landauers themselves are finally drawn home to where their story began.

Brimming with barely contained passion and cruelty, the precision of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession, and the fear of failure - the Glass Room contains it all.

My Review:
This book was, perhaps, one of my more interesting reads of the year. It took me a bit of time to finish because I was distracted by the holiday but I really enjoyed the book. It was just the type of book I was looking for…something that would not be the easiest read but would challenge me and take me out of my YA and romance reading (not that there is anything wrong with or that I don’t love YA and romances).

I think one of the major things with this book is that I did not like any of the characters at all. I thought Liesel and Viktor were completely unlikeable. One too cold, other too passionate. I found that to be true with the majority of the characters in the novel. The males are cold and calculated while the females are passionate and vivacious. The house, in a way, is the most consistent and interesting character in the book.

Usually, at least for me, I must like at least one character to like the book. Not true with the one. I could not stand any of the characters yet I really enjoyed the book. I think it was because it was like watching a train wreck with all of the affairs. The book felt like I was hanging out of my window watching the couple next door fight.

One of the major pluses of this book is the language. The writing is absolutely fantastic. The wording is crisp. It almost feels lyrical and poetic. It has a really amazing flow to it that I was not expecting and really loved.
The Glass Room was really a great read. There were only a few passages where the novel lost me (not a surprise given the general exhaustion of the holidays). This is one of those books that I want to pick up again. Maybe not immediately but in the near future.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


  1. This book sounds goo. I'll ad it to my tbr list. Thanks for reviewing it.



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