First thoughts: the paper stock that this edition was printed on is beautiful and crisp and the font is equally as stylish. Also, smells good. But then again, I was reading a new book.
Just when you thought that another angle of WW2 couldn’t be covered in a novel, comes this tour de force. The Glass Room is a book of layers, covering decades in several countries with characters that intertwine, stealing the limelight at different points in the book.
Layer 1: WW2 and the invasion of new Czech state by the Germans, then the Russians and then freedom. The man who owns the glass house (Victor) is a Jew, so he and his family have to flee overseas to Switzerland and eventually America.
Layer 2: The house in the book is based on Villa Tugendhat, designed by Mies van der Rohe. It was considered the pinnacle of his domestic designs in Europe and if you have a look at images online, it is uncompromisingly modern. Simon Mawer writes in such a way as to make architecture feel like a poem.
Layer 3: This book is sprawling with friendship, love and lust. At some points it feels as though the previous layers are just an excuse for Mawer to self indulge in his sexual fantasies. Some of the relationships are poignant and moving - like the friendship / romantic relationship between main character Leisel and her best friend Hana. At other times, it seems overwraught, not adding to the story and distracting from the historical detail. That’s just my opinion… feel free to feel differently.