From Publishers Weekly
The latest from novelist Mawer (The Fall) begins with great promise, as Jewish newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer meet with architect Rainier von Abt, not just an architect but "a poet...of light and space and form," who builds their dream home, a "modern house...adapted to the future rather than the past, to the openness of modern living." World events, however, are about to overtake 1930s Czechoslovakia. Viktor, like most in the community, dismisses rumors of impending pogroms-"The only people who hold the German economy together are the Jews"-but once the signs of Nazi occupation become impossible to ignore, the Landauers must abandon their beloved home. In a bizarre twist of fate, however, Liesel insists on rescuing single mother Katra, unaware that Katra is Viktor's new mistress. As the world spins into chaos, the highly symbolic Landauer house is the only constant; though it shifts identities more than once, the house remains "ageless," a place "that defines the very existence of time." Mawer's writing and characters are rich, but his twisty plot depends too often on unbelievable coincidences, especially in the conclusion.
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** 'THE GLASS ROOM is a fiction of many remarkable qualities ... Mawer's control of his themes of language, desire, memory and the power of place is extraordinary - as haunting and mysterious as the effect of sunlight on the wall of golden onyx that survives all the convulsions by which his characters are engulfed Jane Shilling, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH ** '[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 Richard T Kelly, FINANCIAL TIMES ** 'Mawer creates a passionately detailed portrait of individuals struggling to snatch order and happiness from frightening, irrational times ... THE GLASS ROOM achieves a rare feat of being truly enjoyable to read. Rachel Aspden, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH ** 'Love triangles litter Mawer's story. They bear witness to his great talent for grasping the non-linear nature of desire. Philip Oltermann, THE TIMES