Read advance reader review of The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe, page 2 of 4

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The House of Velvet and Glass

A Novel

by Katherine Howe

The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe X
The House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe
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  • Published Apr 2012
    432 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Page 2 of 4
There are currently 22 member reviews
for The House of Velvet and Glass
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Alan K. (Westport, MA)
    House of Velvet and Glass
    A totally enjoyable read with a mixture of fact and fiction, jumping forth and back in time. There is good character development with excellent description of life of the upper classes of pre-war Bostonians. The book covers the issues of addiction, mysticism and loss. Definitely recommend.
  • Emily G. (Clear Lake, MN)
    Visit 1915
    Howe does a good job of creating the atmosphere of 1915 and exploring issues that remain relevant today--wealth vs poverty, war, tragedy, pain, family. The characters are complex and interesting and the spiritualism aspect is explored and challenged in many ways. However, if you're looking for a Titanic book, this isn't it. The ship's story plays a role but mostly as a point from which to develop the rest of the story. I suggest this novel for readers who want to be swept into another time and think it would be a good selection for book clubs--it's a good read!
  • Jeff S. (Murfreesboro, TN)
    Old Boston, Opium, Psychics and the Titanic
    Over the course of the 1st 150 pages or so of this novel I was not sure that I was going to like it. The book seemed slow and I couldn't really figure out what was the point. The characters themselves were interesting from the beginning and the descriptions of the settings were also intriguing, yet I had no idea what the main plot of the book would be. It turns out I am very glad that i stuck with it. The book turned out to be a fascinating look at old Boston, the world of opium dens, Psychics and the beginning of one the most fascinating times in American history. I would highly recommend this book, but would also be sure to point out that you need to stick with it and give it time to build. It would definitely be a good book for any book club as there are plenty of discussion points throughout the entire book. I don't know that it was as good as her first book, but it was definitely a great trip in time.
  • Marta T. (Lafayette, CA)
    A period piece with an evocative atmosphere rich in sorrow
    After the death of her mother and younger sister on the Titanic, Sybil turns to her mother's medium for solace. The medium gives her a scrying ball, through which Sybil glimpses ever more detailed visions of an endangered ship. Are they the imaginings of a susceptible mind, dreams induced by a painkiller, or something supernatural? The author weaves together several timelines and locales, bringing the reader to opium dens, seance parlors, wealthy Boston society houses, the Cambridge campus, and of course, places promising death. The pace may be a bit slow for readers interested in action, but others will be rewarded with a rich sense of visiting the past along with insight into how visions may be viewed as a curse.


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