Gordon Dahlquist's debut novel is a big, juicy, epic that will appeal to
fans (see her quote below) and lovers of literary fantasy, like Keith Donohue's
begins with a "Dear Jane" letter in which Celeste Temple learns of the end of her engagement. Curiosity leads her to follow her fiancé to London where she uncovers a secret. Find out more about the origins of this suspenseful literary romance, in Dahlquist's note to readers, below.
A Note from the Author
In the winter of 2004 I was selected for jury duty (at the very same time Martha Stewart went to trial in the next building over--we all had to walk past the fifteen media vans to get to our courthouse). Since the courts in Manhattan are near Chinatown, I like jury duty, as it means a few days of excellent lunches. Instead, New York was hit with a ferocious, sub-zero ice storm that went on for days, where it was impossible to wander in the way I had hoped, and so, with the grind of the trial itself, we jurors were marooned for close to 4 hours each day in the jury room. The second night of the trial, however, I had a strange dream where a friend of mine appeared in the exact garb of one of The Glass Books'
three main characters, Doctor Svenson, and together we faced a mystery in a strange, dark, Victorian building involving prisoners in a creepy upstairs room without a door. While I very rarely remember my dreams, the next morning I found this one percolating in my head quite vividly. But then, for no reason I can recall, I took out a notebook, and began--instead of the Doctor, who I would get to almost off-handedly in another 100 pages or so--writing about a willful young woman from the West Indies whose fiancée has abandoned her without explanation, making it up as I went along. By the end of the trial I had the first chapter. I am by trade a playwright, and had not written prose fiction of any kind for nearly 20 years, but I found myself hooked on the story and the characters--perhaps out of my own desire to know what happened next--and so persisted, putting aside most everything else, writing for the most part in coffee shops and on the subway, until I finished the book almost exactly one year later. --Gordon Dahlquist
From Publishers Weekly
Debut novelist Dahlquist aims for a blockbuster with a mishmash of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre and Eyes Wide Shut
that never quite comes together. Three months after 25-year-old Celeste Temple travels from "her island" (a Bermuda-like place) plantation home to Victorian London, fiancé Roger Bascombe breaks their engagement. Driven more by curiosity than desire, she follows him from his job at the foreign ministry to Harschmort House, where, with little prodding, she quickly finds herself in silk undergarments at a ritual involving masked guests and two-way mirrors. Making her escape, Miss Temple (as she's called throughout) kills a henchman. Ceremony organizers pursue her as she pursues their secrets. Poetry-quoting assassin Cardinal Chang and diplomat Dr. Abelard Svenson come to her aid. Chang tries to save a half-Chinese prostitute; Abelard tries to save a governess named Elöise; Miss Temple discovers she is not the woman she thought she was, nor Roger the man she hoped for. Meanwhile, through science and alchemy, evildoers capture erotic memories and personal will in blue crystals. Dahlquist introduces so many characters, props and plot twists, near-death experiences and narrow escapes that the novel has the feel of a frantic R-rated classic comic book—if comics were arch. (Aug. 29)
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