For as long as she can remember, Meg Pomeroy has been in love with the city of Florence, Italy. It first started when as a young girl she is memorized by a painting that hung in her grandmothers home. Her father flames her passion to see this city in person by promising to take her there one day. But after years of broken promises, Meg settles into her life as a travel book editor, and slowly her dream begins to die. But then one day an unexpected opportunity arises for her to travel to her beloved city, and she realizes that its too good to pass up until she discovers who is secretly financing the trip. Will her pride keep her from her dreams or will she throw caution to the wind and take the biggest chance of her life.
This book was wonderful. The story interconnects the lives of three different women but takes all three of their stories, one historical and two contemporary and weaves them together to create a beautiful story. Although the majority of the story is set in modern times, the historical part of it is no less compelling.
All the characters were magnificently written, but I liked especially Sofia. I thought that she was the most captivating. Although she was in denial of reality for most of the book, I think that most of us could relate at some point in our lives when we long to deny reality and long to live in a world that we can control.
I give this a 3.5 stars only because being published by a Christian publisher, there is no mention of God, Jesus or Salvation in this book.
This would be a fabulous read for anyone who loves art history, Florence, Italy, or a gently-paced tale that weaves both historical and contemporary story lines. Some readers may find themselves skimming the art history details, but most of them actually contribute to a depth of discovery that is ultimately meaningful to the main characters. The surprise ending was a delight.
Coming from a Christian publisher and author, I was surprised that there was no faith element in this book beyond a mention that someone asked for prayer. I believe a spiritual thread could have strengthened the theme, but I still give four stars for skillful weaving of stories spanning several centuries, historical details, and for crafting genuinely likeable characters.
The Girl in the Glass confirmed Susan Meissner as one of my favorite contemporary novelists. I fell in love with her characters, especially Meg and Lorenzo, and didn't want the book to end. However, the ending was so satisfying that I find myself, once again, waiting for Meissner's next book.
Others have reviewed the story line, so I'll limit myself to writing about some of the poetic aspects of the book which left me sighing or giggling or wishing for more. Fresh imagery such as, "the seesaw siren of a European ambulance" or "A line of Vespas, parked like dominoes ready to fall," peppered the pages. In another section, Meissner describes the jealousy Meg feels when Lorenzo walks in with another woman as follows: "I watched in what can only be described as junior-high jealousy as he came out onto the balcony with a lithe brunette on his arm . . . . Her eyelashes could shut a door with one swipe . . . .professionally whitened and perfectly straight teeth saluted me."
In what proved to be the central dilemma of the book--choosing reality over fantasy or vice versa, she writes: "Emilio clearly saw everything black and white . . . but we were the ones who saw the countless shades of gray. We didn't choose reality over fantasy; we chose reality AND fantasy. We saw the beauty in believing some things can be imagined and also the security that some things can be counted on. The things we counted on made the things we imagined possible. And those possibilities made life wonderful and wild."
In addition to all of this, Meissner succeeded in crafting a credible story weaving the lives of three separate women from two different centuries together in such a way that they forged a strong and memorable bond.
You have to respect a writer who can tell three stories simultaneously, and who does it well. I don't normally read contemporary fiction; I prefer historical works. This has a little bit of both and I enjoyed it. I also really, really want to visit Florence, Italy now.
"The Girl in the Glass" by Susan Meissner is the tale of three women on two continents and two centuries. The novel starts out with Nora of the prominent Medicis from the 14th century in Florence, Italy and Meg, a California woman in the 21st. Meg works for a travel book publisher and receives chapters from a budding writer, Sofia, living in Florence. Sofia believes she is a descendant of the Medici and that Nora speaks to her through statues. Meg has a life-long dream of visiting Florence. Her father sends her to Florence shortly after Meg was introduced to Sofia. The three women's lives become intertwined in Florence.
The beginning of this book is hard to get into. Meg is rather immature and has a weird emotional dependency with her parents. Nora is rather vague. When Sofia steps into the story, the novel takes on a whole new take. Sofia's writing is phenomenal. No matter that it is unbelievable, it is still a wonderful voice. I know almost nothing of Italy, let alone Florence. During most of Meg's trip to Florence, I had to read near a laptop so that I could google the works of art they were talking about. There is a lot I have been missing. The art was amazing. If the goal of this book is to make you want to go to Florence, then buy me a ticket. Florence is my new destination on my "must see before I die" list. Top of the list at that. The novel really comes to together at the end. Not my favorite Meissner novel, but still awesome writing. I won this book in a contest from Water Brook Press. (The contest was to choose the cover of the book. They didn't pick my fav, but I still got the book!)