Marcia M. (Woburn, MA)
The House of Velvet and Glass
In The House of Velvet and Glass author Katherine Howe takes readers back to the early 1900s of Boston and, as further background, to the opium dens of China in the late 1800s. Readers travel through the eyes, thoughts, and actions of Sibyl Allston as she learns truths about her family and deals with the ever-changing reality of a new century--all in the tragic shadow of the sinking of the Titanic.
This reading experience, for me, started slowly. It took a good 100 pages to become invested in these characters and their stories. There were times that I wanted the story to just move along; other times, I loved the long, descriptive paragraphs that put me right into the front parlor of a Beacon Hill mansion.
All in all, I rate this a solidly positive reading experience, and I thank the First Impressions program at BookBrowse for making the ARC of The House of Velvet and Glass available to me.
Sandra G. (Middleton, WI)
Top-notch historical fiction
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Every time I had a few spare minutes I wanted to get back to it. I would ordinarily not choose a book with a paranormal subplot, but Sybil's experiences were riveting. The elegant writing style, the rich language, and the masterful character development all added to the pleasure of reading. The wonderfully vivid visual imagery brought both people and places to life. This novel is a winner on all levels!
Bink W. (Sopchoppy, FL)
Wonderful characters and atmosphere
I enjoyed this book equally as much as her first and found the writing style consistent. She really brings one into the periods of history with accurate details and invention. The narrative goes between youth and old age as well as timelines before and after the sinking of the Titantic. Well worth the read if you enjoy historical fiction with a bit of romance.
Debra V. (Kenosha, WI)
Really enjoyed iThe House of Velvet and Glass/i by Katherine Howe. I liked the way it moved from the present to the past telling more than one story and helping you understand the characters emotions. I liked the dating of the chapters so that you knew instantly what story was being told. Also liked the Afterword at the end and totally agree with the author's conclusions about that period in history. I will definitely read this author again, and would recommend to book clubs.
Michelle H. (Van Buren, AR)
Lots going on in The House of Velvet and Glass
Once again, Katherine Howe has cleverly mixed historical fiction with an element of the supernatural. Those who enjoyed The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane will love this one as well. In The House of Velvet and Glass, Howe incorporates many of the elements from her first novel (a strong female character, an interesting family, and an appealing love interest for the heroine, a New England setting), without simply imitating Deliverance Dane. Those with an interest in the sinking of Titanic will not want to miss this book. The tragedy is a major event in the novel, but instead of concentrating on events on the ship, the book concentrates on the families who cope with the loss of loved ones aboard the ship. Sybil, the protagonist, copes with the loss of her mother and sister, a potential opium addiction, a petulant younger brother and his actress girlfriend, a difficult father and a former suitor, all as she discovers her possible talent as a spiritual medium. Definitely a female read, but with a little something for all us girls!
Laurie F. (Brookline, MA)
An Escape into Early 20th Century Beacon Hill
Wonderful, engrossing are the first words that come to mind after reading Katherine Howe's novel. Fabulous character development and descriptions of life during these times as the author delves into the not-so perfect lives of the Boston Brahmins. The book interestingly interweaves the issues of addiction, mysticism, tragedy and positive outcomes in the Ashton family tale. A great book to read on your own or discuss in a group.
Maxine D. (Effingham, IL)
Past, present & future...
I found this book to be an intriguing read. Although the premise of the plot is one with which many readers will not agree, it makes for fascinating reading. The author has interwoven fact and fantasy in a story which claims the reader's attention immediately and doesn't loosen its grip until the last page.