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The Glass Room Paperback – October 20, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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Named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
“A stirring new novel that almost won this year’s Booker Prize….The Glass Room works so effectively because Mawer embeds...provocative aesthetic and moral issues in a war-torn adventure story that’s eerily erotic and tremendously exciting....[a] gorgeous novel.”—The Washington Post
“[A] stirring historical novel.”—The New Yorker
“The Glass Room…is a story that will stay with me for a long, long time.”—The Huffington Post
“An old-fashioned, beautifully constructed novel of history, passion and ideas.”—The Seattle Times
“[A] saga of a family and a nation at war…Mawer moves with grace among multiple points of view and establishes sympathy for characters with competing interests.”—The Forward
"[The Glass Room is] a thing of extraordinary beauty and symmetry... a novel of ideas, yet strongly propelled by plot and characterised by an almost dreamlike simplicity of telling. Comparisons with the work of Michael Frayn would not be misplaced, and there are occasional moments of illuminating brilliance..."—The Guardian
"In Mawer's hands [The Glass Room] becomes a means for exploring the way people's hopes for the future become part of their history. This he does beautifully."—Times Literary Supplement
"...Mawer creates a passionately detailed portrait of individuals struggling to snatch order and happiness from frightening, irrational times."—Sunday Telegraph
"... engrossing... Mawer explores his themes with a subtle intelligence. A novel of ideas, but one driven by character and story."—The Literary Review
"The Jewish fates of Viktor, Kata and others are lightly handled, which seems just right in this optimistic, joyful but never facile vision of human achievement. Mawer's perfect pacing clinches a wholly enjoyable and moving read."—The Independent
"The writing, as sensual and sophisticated as its subjects, keeps us firmly within the house's elegant parameters, caught up in the touch and taste and roiling emotions of the characters living through these events. Seeing clearly, Mawer shows us, is never an option, no matter how large and expensive your windows. Every era thinks it has achieved transparency, complete with modern fixtures and sundry decorations. But we can't ever actually see out, because our damned humanity keeps misting up the glass."—Time Out London
"The Glass Room['s] poetic success is to remind us of two great gilt-edged ironies: that whatever is held to be the height of modernity is already en route to the museum, and that even 'cold' art is the embodiment of its maker's passion - one that can prove contagious."—The Financial Times
"Simon Mawer's grasp of period and place achieves what all great novels must: the creation of an utterly absorbing world the reader can scarcely bear to leave. Exciting, profoundly affecting and altogether wonderful."—Daily Mail
"A carefully constructed book, beautifully written."—The Economist
“[A] wonderful and moving story of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe.” —Christian Science Monitor
More About the Author
Mawer is married and has two children. He has lived in Italy for the past thirty years.
Top Customer Reviews
"It had become a palace of light, light bouncing off the chrome pillars, light refulgent on the walls, light glistening on the dew in the garden, light reverberating from the glass. It as though they stood inside a crystal of salt."
The Glass Room becomes a place where anything and everything is possible, as previous structural and cultural restraints are lifted. The wealthy and sophisticated couple embrace their new home to the fullest, using it frequently to host friends and business colleagues. Liesel's best friend, Hana, a irreverent, beautiful and sexually hungry married woman, is a frequent visitor who provides vitality and spark to the setting.
However, changes are occurring in Europe that darken and threaten the couple's idyllic existence. Hitler's national socialism spreads through and beyond nearby Germany, and the livelihood of Jews in Czechoslovakia becomes slowly but progressively more difficult.Read more ›
In the book, the ultra- modern house was built to symbolize a new beginning for the fledgling country of Czechoslovakia and its inhabitants. However, the beginning was to very quickly come to an end for the Landauer family and those around them. The book follows the Landauers as the house is built, while they live in the home, and after they must flee Czechoslovakia when the Germans invade.
The characters are very nuanced and complex, while the house itself is built be transparent and stark. One of the wonderful juxtapositions of the books is when, during WWII, a Nazi scientist uses the home as a laboratory to try and classify people by their race (ie Jew vs. Aryan) using physical characteristics. He finds the task impossible to accomplish. This seemed to me to be an over-arching theme of the book, given that the Landauers themselves were from many different backgrounds, spoke several languages, and didn't appear to be allied with any philosophy other than progress.
To me this book was all about gray areas and the inability to classify people into neat categories, as well as the danger in attempting to do so. Somehow, with everything else going on in the book, the author also managed to provide a tapestry of sexuality that deeply humanizes the characters.
I found this book to be extremely moving, and far from a usual treatment of the WWII era in Europe.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written, but didn't overall appeal to my reading enjoyment.Published 8 days ago by Lynne Angle
Fabulous,sexy, beautiful writing ,story and imagery. Wonderful bookPublished 18 days ago by mari Davies
Really like Simon Mawer's writing. This is a very unique story.Published 23 days ago by Patricia W.
Book was in excellent condition for used and price low besides being an incredible bookPublished 1 month ago by margie samberg
The book traces the history of a country and a family through the lens of a starkly modern room. We see the genesis of the family and the room and follow them until both the family... Read morePublished 2 months ago by D. Howard
I like this as a historical novel about the house (which is real) through the last century's political upheavals in Europe. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Julie
mr mawer is an extraordinary writer. Although many authors have a facility to create a time and place, Mawer has, in addition to that facility, the ambition to research a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by bushy's opinion