The House of Velvet and Glass Summary and Reviews

The House of Velvet and Glass

A Novel

by Katherine Howe

The House of Velvet and Glass
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Apr 2012
    432 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Katherine Howe, author of the "magical" debut novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with the mesmerizing The House of Velvet and Glass. The year is 1915 and Sybil is living a quiet life of desperation with her father and wastrel brother in an elegant townhouse by the river in Boston, but they are still reeling from the deaths of Sibyl's mother and sister on the Titanic. Sibyl has reluctantly settled into the role of the head of household after her mother's death, but feels as if much of the world is passing her by.

Sybil is drawn into visits to a table-turning medium, where she tries to make contact with her lost relatives in the afterworld. She then encounters Ben, an old family friend who lost his first wife to illness, and to whom Sybil was attracted years ago. As Ben and Sibyl must work together to solve a harrowing mystery, the long-simmering spark reignites, and they realize that there may be something more magical between them than a crystal ball on a medium's table.

From the opium dens of Boston's Chinatown to the upscale salons of high society to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass combines meticulously executed period detail, a compelling romance, and a shocking twist at the end in a fantastic novel that will thrill the readers who discovered Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"An engaging story of love, destiny, and sacrifice in the growing shadow of WWI, with the unexpected touch of fantasy." - Publishers Weekly

"Reading more as historical fiction with bits of mysticism thrown in, this release should satisfy undiscriminating historical fiction readers, specifically those interested in the early 20th century. Recommended for fans of Tracy Chevalier and Diana Gabaldon." - Library Journal

"The slightly sordid melodrama and para-psychological philosophizing lean uncomfortably against a sappy romance." - Kirkus Reviews

"The House of Velvet and Glass is an intricate and intimate family drama, artfully spanning the seamy underworld of colonialist Shanghai, the wreck of the opulent but tragically fated Titanic, and the veiled world of upper-crust Boston delvers into divination and mysticism in the uneasy days preceding the Great War. With subtle threads interwoven throughout the lives of Sibyl Allston and her loved ones, Howe unveils a dark mystery that challenges her protagonist's perceptions of love and bravery, science and augury, death and honor, choice and Fate. Altogether a beautifully crafted saga exploring the curse of the seer and the courage that freedom ultimately requires." - Lyndsay Faye, author of Dust and Shadow

"Katherine Howe follows up her amazing debut with The House of Velvet and Glass, a thoughtful journey into the realms of the supernatural that inhabits its source material with effortless ease and charm. A totally absorbing read peopled with characters who will haunt readers' minds." - David Liss, author of The Twelfth Enchantment

The information about The House of Velvet and Glass shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Elinor S. (Loudonville, NY)

The House of Velvet and Glass
Wonderful! I really loved this book. Well written and informative. I think this would be a wonderful read for a book club. It was so heartfelt with the feelings of loss of the sister and mother. The popularity of the seances and the availability of the opiates was information that I had not thought of before. Love, academia, upper class privilege and exotic travel were all included to make this a really good read

Judy B. (Cedar Falls, IA)

THE HOUSE OF VELVET AND GLASS
I couldn't wait for the next cliff hanger to resolve itself. The characters, complex, and enjoyable kept me turning pages to know more about them. Historical details made the novel feel like nonfiction.

Sandra L. (Delray Beach, FL)

The House of Velvet and Glass
I enjoyed this book very much. Loved the images Ms Howe's words painted of pre WWI Boston, old Shanghai and the Titanic. This is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and the book is timely. It tied in well with my recent reading of "The Technologist" by Matthew Pearl.

Kristen H. (Hagerstown, MD)

The House of Velvet and Glass
I enjoyed reading this book by Katherine Howe. The characters in the book are described very well. As I have read in her first novel, The Physick book of Deliverance Dane, she ties in the lives of the characters extremely well. Once again, this author has written a great historical novel and I would recommend this book for book clubs or anyone that would enjoy a great historical read.
I am glad that I was able to read this first impression book, thank you for the opportunity.

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.

...16 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Katherine Howe Author Biography

Katherine Howe is the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, The House of Velvet and Glass, and Conversion. She has hosted "Salem: Unmasking the Devil" for the National Geographic Channel, and her fiction has been translated into over twenty-five languages. A native Texan, she lives in New England and upstate New York, where she teaches at Cornell and is at work on her next novel.

Link to Katherine Howe's Website

Other books by Katherine Howe at BookBrowse
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.