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Comments

Wendy

I loved this book - and you've written a fantastic review of it. This was my first experience with Mawer's writing, but it won't be my last.

maryb

I recently finished this novel and have not yet written about it. I've been having trouble motivating myself to write about books lately. You did a really good job of capturing it.

I too didn't love this novel although I appreciated it and it kept me interested. I think the problem for me was that it was difficult having a house as a main character. I thought the most dynamic part of the novel was when the house was being designed - the sense of collaboration between Leisel and the architect and how Viktor was somewhat excluded from it but by his own choice. He didn't believe enough.

And I had this thought that if the woman who wrote Loving Frank had been able to show this kind of collaboration between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah, it would have made that a better novel.

Now you've got me thinking, maybe I will finally write about it.

Claire (The Captive Reader)

I've been hesitant to read this one. My family is Czech and usually I'm the first in line for any book set there but I've been holding back because Mawer is a British author. Usually I'm fine reading novels set outside of the author's native land but I'm strangely protective when it comes to books set in Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic, far more so than of book set in Canada, my home country. I'm glad to hear you liked this and I haven't completely ruled out reading it eventually, but I'm not sure I'm ready yet.

Danielle

Wendy--I really liked it as well. I struggled with writing this, so I am happy it makes sense! And I am looking forward to reading The Fall--I bought it at a library sale a while back (before I even realized The Glass Room was his novel, too), and that one has also come highly recommended.
Maryb--I totally understand what you're going through. I worked on this one over the course of several days because I just couldn't quite decide what to write about it. I had lots of loose ideas jotted down, but there is so much to think about and I see I never really talked much about the actual story--but oh well. At least to people who've read the book it will make sense. There were lots of interesting parts, but the story was really dominated by the house itself. This would make a great book club book, wouldn't it?! I've not read the FLW book, though it sounds interesting. I've thought of getting it since it is out in paper--it might be interesting to compare the stories. And I will watch for your post on the book now!
Claire--There are some subjects that are too personal for me, too, to read about--or at least I choose my books very carefully (and it is nice reading literature that is written by native authors of a country). I'd be curious to see what you make of the Czech viewpoint if you do pick it up. He certainly used a lot of foreign words to give more meaning and depth to things, but in a way it almost felt very British--I think I read one reviewer felt it almost had a translated feel to it, which I'm not sure was on purpose or not. Definitely an interesting read.

Verity

I have not read this, yet it and the reviews I've read really intrigue me.

Liz F

I read this last year in the run up to the Booker Prize and surprised myself with how much I liked it. Didn't love it but definitely liked it possibly because I haven't read anything about that area of Europe at that period of history for a long time and it always interests me to see things from a different perspective.

Jackie (Farm Lane Books)

The Glass Romm was one of my favourite books of 2009. I wish it had won the Booker prize. I haven't read any of his other books, but do have a copy of The Fall here too. Let's hope it is as good.

Nadia

I have been wanting to read this, but for some reason have been hesitating. Your review has inspired me to pick it up sooner rather than later and start reading. It sounds like my cup of tea. And I totally agree with you about the book cover art - I prefer the colorful one, too!

cathy

I just picked this up from the library yesterday, so really appreciated your review. I will be attending a lecture on this book in a couple of weeks and have heard great things about it (the book, not the lecture).

Isabella

Great review, Danielle! I also quite liked this book, and I totally agree with you about the covers — in fact, I was almost convinced by the cover of the paperback that it would be exactly the kind of sentimental, predictable romance/war story that I don't like at all. I was pleasantly surprised, and I especially liked the form/function theme.

Stefanie

I've heard about the book but haven't been paying attention to the reviews. It sounds really interesting. I'll be adding it to my TBR list and hopefully I'll get to it one of these days!

Litlove

What a great review! I have this to read, but have been waiting for the right moment, suspecting it of being an ideas-driven novel (which is fantastic if you're in the mood for that sort of thing). Your review makes me much keener to pick it up now than I've been in months!

catharina

What a magnificent review! I read the Glass House last year, after I read The Fall. I was very much impressed with the amount of research that must have gone into writing these. I prefered The Glass Room because of its context/era yet both are very good.
I collect films (DVD)in which houses play a central part (The Lake House f.i.)wouldn't it be great seeing Villa Tugendhat on screen?

iliana

What a great review Danielle! It sounds like this would be a great book for a reading group as it seems to cover quite a bit of ground. Another one for my list.

Danielle

Verity--It was really an unusual story, and I liked it a lot. It makes me want to go and visit the house now! I've been to Prague--just think how close I was and didn't even know it.
Liz--I've not read a lot set in Eastern Europe, so I found that aspect of the story really interesting. I liked it a lot, but there was so much to think about I think in the end I appreciated it more for what he was doing than for the story of the Landauers, though he did manage to tie it all together.
Jackie--I think this is only the third (along with Brooklyn and The Little Stranger) that I've read from the list and I've yet to read the winner. I can see where this would be really appealing to readers and have heard really good things about The Fall, which is actually the first book I bought by him.
Nadia--That cover is really striking! I do hope you like it. It reads really fast actually--I like his prose style, but it's almost deceptively simple as there are still all sorts of ideas behind the story.
Cathy--You'll have to let me know what you think--and the lecture, too. Is the author giving the lecture? I read an interview with Mawer and he sounds like an interesting person!
Isabella--I don't mind the nostalgic cover, but it doesn't really seem to fit the story--the artwork on the cloth edition was perfect--the strong angular lines and bold colors--exactly what I think of when I think of modernism. And I like how the story wasn't really sentimental (though wouldn't necessarily have minded that the postscript chapter had been left off). I think this is the first time I've read a book with such a strong art theme when it's architecture rather than painting.
Stefanie--I'd love to hear what you think about it. And I sort of like knowing about books without having read many reviews. I think this one has been discussed a lot thanks to the Booker nomination.
Litlove--This was for me a very ideas driven novel, though the story carries things along nicely, too. It's quite simply written so it'll be a quick read, but he still manages to give the reader lots to think about. I'd like to read more of his books--it seems he's written several.
Catharina--Yes, you can definitely tell he did his homework. I found The Fall at a library sale right before he was nominated for the Booker and didn't even realize he had a new book out. It was very serendipitous as I had not heard of him before. I bet there are lots of books and films with the story revolving around a house--the first Forsyte novel is also about the building of a house! I'd love to see the Villa Tugendhat on screen.
Iliana--This would make a great discussion book! I think even reviewers varied widely in what they thought and there are so many ideas in the book. Definitely one to look out for.

Tiina

This goes into my TBR list right NOW! :) I have a soft spot for architecture & European history & this book sounds very interesting to me.

Greetings,
Tiina

Danielle

Tiina--I think you might like this if you are interested in art and architecture in fiction. I liked the setting as well--the fact that it was more about central Europe rather than the traditional places that always seem to be written about. You'll have to let me know what you think when you get to it.

Marg

This is on my one day list of books! I am sure that I will like it...if I ever get to read it.

Richard Phillips

Have just finished The Glass Room. I loved it. Or rather 99% of it. (One sex scene described in terms I could just not take seriously.) That aside, I found it tremendously moving. But I have a question. Was Liesl's strangely matter of fact explanation of how Kata and Marika had 'left them' in France meant to imply that it was Liesl who had somehow betrayed them to the Germans? Has this thought crossed anyone else's mind? Or have I somehow turned over a a couple of pages and missed something?

Danielle

Richard--I really enjoyed it as well and hope to read more of his work--I have The Fall on hand at the moment. I'm afraid some of the details have started to fade from memory already (and it's not been so long since I finished it!), but I hadn't made the connection between Leisl and Kata and the possibility of a betrayal of one by the other. I did wonder about her--why she had made it so far and at the end was pulled off the train. I'd have to go back and read that section. Leisel had a sort of strange acceptance of Kata--her being her husband's mistress, so it might not be so far fetched she would turn her in. Or was it just a twist of fate? It's interesting to get another perspective and there is certainly lots in this book to think about. Betrayal seems to be a big theme really, so it might be very fitting!

Justbookclc

The Glass Room holds many things: war, turmoil, loss, joy, and love in its many shades, “tastes and scents”. The glass room becomes the physical container of these things, a stage. The lucid prose and tight storyline ensure that the book does not labour under the weight of its symbolism.

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