Thursday, January 07, 2010

Glass Room

Simon Mawer's The Glass Room was shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker along with the likes of AS Byatt, JM Coetzee and Sarah Waters. The prize went to Wolf Hall that year, but Mawer's book, like most Booker short listers, deserves attention as well. Sometimes the Booker committee goes for dry, overly literary (See for example the brutally boring The Sea) books. The Glass Room is literary but it is also grounded in popular fiction with plenty of sex, violence, familial discord and history.

The main characters are Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a pair of wealthy Czechs who make the aquaintance of a famed architect on their honeymoon. The meeting leads to more and the architect eventually designs a house made of glass for them. The story then revolves around the house as the the family is thrown from the house and it is taken by the Nazis and eventually the communists. The story is framed by Liesel's return during the Prague Spring and other visit after the fall of the communist state.

Both Viktor and Liesel become dissatisfied by their marriage and launch on affairs, one straight and one gay. The ins and outs of these relationships lead to plenty of trouble but are well portrayed. Thanks to Blue Dot Literary for providing a copy.

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