Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Glass Room is Terrific!

I don't usually blog about a book I haven't finished reading yet, but the one I'm reading now is SO bloody good it just seems downright mean to wait any longer to let you in on it, if you don't already know about it. The Glass Room, by Simon Mawer (not to be confused with the memoir The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls) offers beautiful rich meaty chewy storytelling. I'm torn between not wanting to stop reading because it's so good (last night I stayed up 'til almost 2 am, telling myself "just one more chapter," and then "just one more chapter," and then again, until my eyes finally gave out) and not wanting to finish it because I know I will be so sad when there's no more of it to read. Frankly, the book could go completely in the toilet in the second half (which I don't expect, given what I've been told by people who have read all the way, not to mention the public accolades), and I would STILL feel comfortable recommending this book, because what I've read so far is just that good.

Here's a brief synopsis: The honeymooning Landauers are filled with the vibrant optimism of central Europe of the 1920s when they meet the modernist architect who builds their dream home for them in Czechoslovakia, a futuristic home made of chrome, glass, and steel. As Viktor, a rich Jewish mogul, and Liesel, a thoughtful, modern gentile, build their life together, their marriage starts to show signs of strain. The radiant honesty and idealism of 1930 quickly evaporate beneath the approaching storm clouds of WWII and the encroaching Nazi troops. The description on the book jacket sums it up nicely: "Brimming with barely contained passion and cruelty, the precision of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession, and the fear of failure -- the Glass Room [the book and the room] contains it all."

The book was a finalist for the 2009 Man Booker Prize and was named a Best Book of 2009 by The Economist, The Observer, The Financial Times, and, among others. Mawer, who was born in England and spent his childhood there and in Cyprus and Malta, now lives in Italy where he teaches at St. George's British International School. His previous novels include The Fall, The Gospel of Judas, and Mendel's Dwarf (long-listed for the Booker).

I can't say it strongly enough: READ THIS BOOK! And now I must go, so I can return to reading my yummy book.

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