Saturday, 14 November 2009
My Thoughts: The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
In my pledge to create myself a mini-read-a-thon this weekend so that I can tackle my huge pile of books I have read for a good 4 and a half hours today and knocked the first book off of the pile :D Only about 50 more to go! lol
The Glass Room is the second book in the 2009 Booker Shortlist which I have read, and it definately deserves to be part of that list. (I've read the winner, and thought that this was the better of the books).
The Glass Room is actually a glass house, a thoroughly modern home built on a hillside over looking a Czech city. The house, built for the Landauer family, becomes the symbol of sexual and emotional relationships as the novel progresses.
Viktor and Lisel Landauer have this home built in the early days of their marriage, when life is a bunch of roses for the family. Viktor is the founder of a famous car manufacturer, and the wealthy couple fill their home with piano recitals and modern art. The glass building becomes a home for their small family, a symbol of oppulance and luxury.
As the marriage cools, Viktor finds comfort away from home, whilst Lisel's life is made exciting through the gossip and behaviour of her sexually adventurous best friend Hana.
When the war looms, Viktor and Lisel are forced to move away, he a Jew and she a German. They escape with his mistress over the border to Switzerland. The house then becomes an empty shell, facing the destruction of bombs, govermental ownership and possession and scientific experimentation.
The characters gripped me from early on, especially Hana and Kata, Viktor's lover. But all in all I wanted to know what happened to the characters, how their life turned out. I felt robbed when I discovered that the book suddenly moved 20 odd years into the future and I had missed out hearing about Ottilie (love that name) and Martin's childhood. The house reminded me of the house in To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. There is a segment in that novel when the war is occuring and the destruction of Britain and the family is characterised by the deterioration of the family home.
A fantastic read, I highly recommend it.
War Through the Generations