BookBrowse Reviews A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart

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A Map of Glass

by Jane Urquhart

A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart X
A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 375 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2007, 375 pages

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Urquhart's passion for the past is at full poetic play in this intricate story of love, loss and memory. Novel

From the book jacket: Andrew Woodman stumbles through a snowstorm, slowly losing his strength, his language, and his memories of the once-familiar island landscape around him. When Jerome, a young artist on a remote island retreat, discovers the old man's body frozen in the ice later that winter, the rich narrative tapestry of A Map of Glass begins.

One year after Andrew's body is discovered, Sylvia Bradley – a withdrawn, sheltered woman whose secret affair with Andrew changed her world forever – decides to learn more about her lover's mysterious disappearance. She flees to the overwhelming, unfamiliar city of Toronto on a quest to find Jerome. Once she does, they work together to uncover both the secrets of their own pasts and the breathtaking story of Andrew's ancestors.

Comment: In A Map of Glass Urquhart explores the psyches of 3 people, each committed to their own unconventional form of art. Andrew Woodman is a landscape geographer, Jerome McNaughton calls himself an 'earth artist' and is committed to capturing photos of Ontario's vanishing past, and Sylvia Bradley suffers from an autistic-type condition that causes her to be afraid of the imprecise which manifests itself in an obsession with maps. This interest in unconventional art forms continues a theme that has run through Urquhart's previous two novels (The Stone Carvers and The Underpainter).

This is a book that rewards the patient reader, there are big themes here but they are revealed slowly. Most reviewers praise Urquhart's latest, for example the Canadian publication Quill & Quire describes it as "A serious, mature novel abundantly displaying the skill Urquhart has built up over decades in her poetry and prose." The one significantly dissenting voice is Kirkus Reviews who concludes by saying, "She's a wonderful scene-painter with an impressive mastery of the details of farm and village life. But her story flies in too many directions, and is hamstrung by appallingly portentous, theme-driven dialogue. At her best, this writer commands an impressive range of varied literary skills. But here, simpler would have been better."

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2006, and has been updated for the March 2007 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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