on March 30, 2011
This was a lovely book & I thought the main character to be a "shimmering spirit". The author skillfully wove the stories of three (3) generations of women within this family throughout the book & I enjoyed this non-linearity. Life & treatment by the men she loved almost broke the main character's spirit, but didn't. She began to "find herself" in early middle age, as many women do. The author's portrayal of an abusive marriage, that involved little or no physical violence, was so exquisitely true. I was in one of those marriages & it cut very close to the bone. So many people do not understand the brutality & deadening of the spirit that occurs in financial, psychological, & emotional abuse. As in life, the main character began to recognize that she had misperceptions of the people & events in her life and she began to come to terms with them. The author's ending was not a cliche and I found myself looking forward to learning more about this woman's future. I could imagine several outcomes and anticipated that there might be other outcomes that I couldn't imagine. I thought this book rose above the writing common in popular paperback books and was truly literature. I hope to read more by Ms Meredith in the future because she expresses herself in such a beautiful and satisfying manner.
on July 18, 2011
This is a compelling story set in the 70s (the age of liberation and free love). Unfortunately, it's also a time when domestic violence wasn't reported and a divorced woman was considered damaged goods. Mrs. Meredith takes the life of Sarah Stevens and takes us on a journey that covers three generations of families who were glass workers and migrated from Germany to West Virginia. I was hesitant to read this book at first because it's a far cry from what I normally read and longer than the books that I normally buy. However, the storyline kept me turning the pages and pushing to see what the end would be, and I wasn't disappointed. This is a beautifully written novel that takes the main character full circle and tells a story that any woman can identify with (even in present times).
It's a story filled with emotions that shows how determined one woman was to change the circumstances in her life, especially after becoming a mother. At times I felt sorry for Sarah, but by the end of the story, I felt her strength. I applaud Mrs. Meredith on her debut novel and all the awards that she has received for this work.
Barbara Joe Williams, author of "A Writer's Guide to Publishing & Marketing"
on March 10, 2013
Really liked this unique book with great characterization. I can see why it won a Florida Writers Association award in 2009. I liked the way it went back in time to give bits of Sarah's family history. One bit was really a surprise! The story was so realistic in that the characters were neither all good nor all bad. No one's perfect. Well done!
on January 21, 2011
Our lives are the results of the choices we make or that others make for us. Teenagers in Clarksburg, West Virginia, know that the path to a life working in glass factories is as fragile as glass itself. Young men face the draft with the almost certainty of a trip to Viet Nam. Young women may choose college over a job or marriage right after high school. Each faces uncertainty. Sarah, already disappointed that her options are limited by gender-bias, settles for less than she deserves. Her first love leaves her with no explanation.
Less love, less understanding, and less hope. Like many women of her generation, and of the women in her family before her, she finds the strength and courage to survive.
"The Glass Madonna" takes the reader back to the days when "the pill" was still whispered about, college dorms had stringent rules, and family secrets weren't posted on social media.
There are so many aspects of this family saga that it is difficult for me to describe all the things I like about this book. The setting is like home because I grew up in the same area. The characters are like many people I knew then and now. I went to the same college and worked for the same school system. Even my first name, Sarah, is the same. This is not my story despite however familiar it seems. It is a story that will recall memories of those who experienced the time and will enlighten those who weren't teens in the time of the Kent State shootings, Watergate, and so many events which still shape our society. I've read the book twice. I'm sure I'll read it again. I've recommended it to friends and family. I've arranged for a bookseller to add it to his inventory. And now I hope I've encouraged you to do the same.
on June 25, 2013
Ms Meredith has created a world in a time and place particular to the last century in America that shone with promise yet was also a prison. A woman who could be anyone's daughter, sister, mother, friend, living an ordinary life filled with ups and downs, triumphs and defeats, who makes decisions based either on love or fear, just as we all do. I found myself feeling connected to the protagonist, rooting for her as for a treasured friend, or for myself.
This book very deservedly won a prestigious award. I believe you will enjoy it as much as I have. Buy the book and be prepared to discover a new friend. I highly recommend it. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author too. Thank you Ms Meredith!
on December 5, 2010
Donna Meredith has taken the 1970s, a time of revolution and women's liberation, and showed us it just wasn't so in many cases. The family she has created faces the same approvals, disapprovals, male domination, and female angst that are timeless if we really knew the truth behind those doors. She manages to do this with a backdrop of the glass making art, something dear to the heart of her protagonist. There is also backstory of how the family survived and passed down this art. Donna tells the story that doesn't drift into commonplace tedium but holds the reader's interest right from the start with a smooth, intriguing flow of words. We know how the characters feel about what is happening to them, feelings all too familiar and often never spoken.Tide Water Talisman
on July 10, 2011
The Glass Madonna, set in Clarksburg, West Virginia, is the story of German citizens, artisans in glass blowing, and their recruitement to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then to Clarksburg, during the infancy and then the heyday of the glass industry.
The novel successfully contains stories within the story; the author skillfully intertwines the life and secrets of a modern day descendant, Sarah, with the lives and secrets of her ancestors, causing readers to reflect on the universality and timelessness of issues faced as we come of age and mature.
The novel calls to mind: women as property, women with few options, the "pre-pill" days, the era before day care centers, the impact of the women's movement,and much more.
The Glass Madonna is interesting to read and interesting to think about.
on March 19, 2012
After reading "The Glass Madonna" I thought, "This is a first-rate novel."
Like any good book, this one enables you to see life more vibrantly, to see the seams below the surface, to understand what you didn't before.
Most of this novel is set in Harrison County, West Virginia, tracking its social and economic changes in the 1960s and 1970s. It captures the pride of glass making there and flashbacks give you similar looks at Germany and Pittsburgh.
For the most part, this is a woman's book. The point of view is mostly that of a normal girl transitioning into a challenging womanhood.
It is good for men to try to understand a woman's world because even in the age of unisex, so much of their experience differs from our own and most of us guys have little more than clues.
The protagonist, Sarah Stevens, grapples with a culture that had not yet stepped toward equal rights and equal opportunities.
We see marriage and the dissolution of a marriage from a woman's point of view.
I don't know about you but I as a man view women as Meredith does. They are "mystery and magic." This guy welcomes the insights the author offers to penetrate the enigmas.
She describes the making of glass, both blown glass and the assembly line pressed glass, better than anyone I have read.
Try this, describing a German uncle blowing glass: "(He) danced with delicately timed steps - blowing, twirling, dipping - moving to music only he could hear, the rhythms flowing naturally through his limbs.
"At the end of their dance together, man and glass, the pipe gave birth to a cobalt ball. Her uncle's breath, the kiss of life."
She writes about the now defunct Adamston Flat and Rolland glass factories.
She writes most convincingly about the Hazel Atlas plant that in the 1970s was the largest maker of tumblers in the world and provided nearly 1,000 jobs in Harrison County.
She talks about men and women who routinely endured temperatures of 120 degrees in those factories.
She writes of the lung diseases that afflict glassworkers and of their worries as the glass industry implodes.
A curious historical aside summons up the Socialist Party, once in power in some small towns in West Virginia early in the twentieth century.
If you are not from north central West Virginia, you might enjoy what she says about life there. You'll also learn about high school teaching, the Vietnam War, mental illness and even basketball, a minor theme but major interest.
Meredith's novel published by Wild Women Writers won first prize in a national contest. I can't wait to see what this skilled novelist publishes next.
on January 31, 2011
To me a good book is not only one that I hate to put down, but one I hate to come to an end. That's how I felt about The Glass Madonna. When the story ended I hated to say good-bye to Sarah. I felt like I was saying good bye to a dear friend. The way Ms. Meredith brings history into the book is remarkable. She brings together Sarah's life in West Virgina and the history of her family from Germany, to Pittsburg, and then to West Virginia. She also learns thru the history of the glass Madonna, that a family's love can forgive all.
on July 6, 2011
Donna Meredith weaves together a dramatic and evocative tale, following the life of her protagonist, Sarah, as she struggles to find her way in the changing world of the 1960s and 70s. But there are also flashbacks to earlier times in Sarah's family history and they come through in an authentic and interesting way, adding depth to the story line. I loved the thread of the glass blowing as well, helping me learn about a craft I knew little of before I started turning the pages. Even though this book won an award for women's fiction, it can be thoroughly enjoyed by both women and men. I look forward to Meredith's next novel!