Sunday, 8 February 2009

Review – Sue GEE – “The Mysteries of Glass”

Publ: 2004 Headline
Pensby Library
ISBN: 0 7533 0309 1
Genre: General, historical
Pages: 342p
Recommended by A Work in Progress
Rating: ***** ****

What led you to pick up this book?
It was reviewed by A Work in Progress

Describe the plot without giving anything away.
In the winter of 1860 young Richard Allen arrives at a small hamlet outside Hereford to take up his first position as a curate. It's in this quiet place of wind and trees, birds and water that Richard is to fall passionately in love. As Richard begins to be accepted into the community his feelings begin to challenge his very belief in God. Allen's relationship with the sick Rector and the various inhabitants of his parish are explored in depth and with meaning.

What did you think of the characters?
The whole book could well have been written in the year in which it is set and the characters act in accordance with their stations and the mores of the time.

What did you think about the style?
Classic. I say that in the sense that the style of writing is such as might well have been written by Anthony Trollope or the like. In each scene, the whole setting is described – not just the sights and the words that are spoken but the other sounds, the smells, the general feel of the day or moment.

What did you like most about the book?
The style.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?
The ending.

Thoughts on the book jacket / cover.
A photo from the Hulton archive, the scene is a beautiful one and most appropriate to one of the major turning points in the book. (However, I do dislike it when a photo is reversed on the back cover, rather than repeated, so that it is the wrong way round - it is unnecessary and annoying.)

Would I recommend it?

Totally irrelevant side note:
I sometimes think I am over-critical of authors – bearing in mind the fact that I could not write half as well as most of them. I could feel myself, for the first twenty pages of this book seeking some sort of chronological error – as if to show how clever I am. The book is set in 1860, a period about which I know a fair bit. Not that I’m quite old enough to have been there but I have read many diaries from the period. Because the style of Susan Gee is so detailed and she describes each setting so comprehensively there is much opportunity to make a mistake. It was only when I had got that out of my system that I could settle down and enjoy the book.
Even then, when the author mentioned Warsaw and Prague in a list of capitals on p125 my immediate reaction was to query it. Poland had disappeared into Russian rule at that time and was no longer an independent kingdom so should the teacher have been mentioning it as a capital... And Prague didn’t become a capital until after WWI. Damn, it’s awful being so pedantic.

SUE GEE is a British born author and associate lecturer in Writing and Publishing Studies at Middlesex University. She lives in London with her Polish partner and their son.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. It sounds like it could be an intriguing book.

    Tony Peters
    Kids on a Case: The Case of the Ten Grand Kidnapping


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