I bought The Glass Room by Simon Mawer solely on the recommendation of Anne Kingman in the “Books on the Nightstand” podcast. Too be honest. I never… never… would have picked up this book at the bookstore. It’s just not my usual area. But this one, set in the dawning of WWII in the smaller border countries of Europe, really is well done. And I highly recommend it.
Yes, it is a bit of a romance book, but there is enough geo-political, nationalistic thought that it all kind of makes sense. Even though this one is a bit more heavy in the, ahem, ‘relations’ area than I’m used to, that really didn’t get in the way either. All of the passions really make sense. Whether for other people, their country, their social status or their house.
Ah, the house. It is central to the story. It is the anchor of the story. Some have said it becomes it’s own character and while I won’t go that far I certainly appreciated the role it plays. The descriptions of such a modern architectural home were fantastic. The story follows a well-to-do couple in Europe in between WWI and WWII. They elect to build a modern house with glass walls all of the way around. The family and house are received about as well as you can imagine in such a traditional part of the world back in the early to mid-1900’s. Much of the story revolves around the relationships of a core group of friends and society types. There is love, affairs, work, travel, etc. and then was looms. And all of the fantasy and such goes out the window when it comes time for them to answer: jew or not jew? Do we stay or do we run?
I’m told that if you read a lot of literary romance fiction, this one might feel cliche at times, but I never felt that way.
I did read this on my phone via the Kobo reader app and really enjoyed it. I only noticed 6 errors, which is waaaaay less than any Kindle book I have ever bought. This is one I will look for though and buy as a paper book so that it can sit on my shelf for me to loan and talk about.
I give it 4 out of 5 stars.