Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room. High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of World War II gather, and eventually the family must flee, accompanied by Viktor's lover and her child.
But the house's story is far from over, and as it passes from hand to hand, from Czech to Russian, both the best and the worst of the history of Eastern Europe becomes somehow embodied and perhaps emboldened within the beautiful and austere surfaces and planes so carefully designed, until events come full-circle.
©2009 Simon Mawer (P)2010 Recorded Books LLC
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This novel is proof that if you like the characters and the writing, a book in which nothing really happens can still be riveting.
But honestly, to say “nothing really happens” is not fair because in a story about people’s lives that span 30 years and includes WW2 everything happens! Perhaps it’s because I have no imagination that I can’t verbalize it better.
It’s the story of a man and woman and a house. Sounds dull, but it’s not because the people were interesting to me. I didn’t necessarily LIKE all of them, but nevertheless I still found them interesting; I was curious about their history and their future, I wanted to know what happened to them, I cared about their lives.
I particularly liked the way the house itself was a main character, especially the Glass Room and the Onyx Wall - how original! I wonder if the way I conjured it up in my mind is anywhere close to what the author envisioned?
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