Rated of 5
by 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!
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by 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.
Rated of 5
by Becky H. (Chicago, IL) an upper class look at the early 20th century
I really enjoyed this book. After a slow start and getting used to the jumps in place and time, I found House of Velvet and Glass to be a compelling look at the early 20th century. A book group would find the drug use (opium), the early psychology/sociology instances, the expectations for men and women, dress and table manners, and the social class divide/discrimination would all make good topics for discussion. I found the characters believable and the plot flowed easily. The use of "real" people gave color to the events (Titanic & Lusitania) and lent credibility to the story. The descriptions of rooms, clothing, manners and social interactions as well as the descriptions of spiritualism and opium dens added to my enjoyment of the story. I started reading expecting "chick lit" and found something much more substantial. As a high school librarian I think many older teens would enjoy the book. The book would work for a mother/teen book group.
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