Deftly weaving together the threads of three women's lives, Susan Meissner has created a book as rich and evocative as Florence, Italy, itself. The Girl in the Glass gives us Meg Pomeroy, a book editor house-sitting in a cottage in California. Her job is the only solid thing in her life. A fragmented childhood, a broken engagement, and an unfulfilled promise from her father give Meg's life an untethered quality, and her dream of visiting Florence, Italy, the home of her beloved Nonna, lies always in her heart. It is possible to be homesick for a place one's never been.
Through her friend and client, Lorenzo, who lives in Florence, Meg receives a manuscript written by Sofia Borelli, another Florentine, who claims to be descended from the Medicis. Sofia makes other eccentric and mysterious assertions, such as the ability to hear the voice of a Medici ancestress, Nora Orsini, through works of art. Though more than a bit dubious of such claims, Meg is drawn into Sofia's story, and her desire to visit Florence strengthens
Interlaced between Meg's story and Sofia's manuscript is Nora herself. A child of the Italian Renaissance, Nora reflects on her short life on the eve of her wedding to a man she barely knows. Despite her precarious childhood, Nora clings to the secret of the "girl in the glass," a secret her nurse told her years ago. This same secret serves to benefit Meg and Sofia, as well.
Meissner's plot is well paced, with surprising twists and intriguing developments, and her descriptions are vivid, conveying a strong sense of place. Through her characters' lives and circumstances, Meissner skillfully and elegantly addresses themes of loss and faith; reality and imagination; instability and perseverance; and the qualities of love. Although the book begins slowly, it quickly gains momentum and pulls readers into Meg's life. The denouement is fully satisfying, even though some questions remain unanswered - just like in real life.
The Girl in the Glass is one of the better books I've read lately. I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Moreover, Meissner's descriptions are so well written that I found myself daydreaming about Florence! I'm thrilled to discover an author new to me; I'll be reading more from her.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Meissner uses fresh phrasing, to-the-point dialogue, a description that enchants as much as it sucks you into her world. Her story, revolving around book editor, Marguerite (Meg) Pomeroy, is one of mystery and history (definitely endearing for me). Meg has had one dream her whole life: to visit the ancient city of Florence. Ever since her Italian grandmother passed away, her father promised to take her as a graduation present. But she has long since passed high school, and then college, and still they have never taken the promised trip, and now she has a life immersed in the publication business. Life goes on day to day, and though she still dreams of going to Florence, reminisces about her past longings and memories of her grandmother,
Probably the thing that singles this novel out the most is Meissner's powerful way with words. Not only do you believe with every ounce of your being that Meg wants to go to Florence, that she should go to Florence, but you want to go too, to see the things she pictures, the settings she paints, the artwork she describes... Not only do you believe Sophia's claim of hearing Nora, but you hear her too. And you want to tell the world. There is something almost magical in the way Meissner speaks, like a beautiful lilt of poetry, a last spec of color dancing on the horizon of a dark world. It is captivating.
There was only one drawback to the book. Meg is needy, in many ways, all relatable and understandable, but throughout the books she struggles between "picking" one of three men. By the end of the book, the reader is more or less tired about her wishy-washy desires for love, yet inability to just sit down and choose.
Still, it is a beautiful story about restoration, relationships, and learning to keep your imagination and reality in two places.
"What does one do with a heart that has been broken? One might look for a bonding agent that will fuse all the pieces back together. Or one might learn to live among the shards.
Or one might be tempted to sweep up the bits and toss them and be done with hearts." ~ Nora
I spent a day in Florence onceâ€”and thought it was enough. But, after reading "The Girl in the Glass" by Susan Meissner, I'd like to go backâ€”for about a monthâ€”with Meissner as my tour guide! Her book does exactly what her main character, a travel book editor, hopes a potential author's book will do: it makes you feel you've been there if you haven't and long to go back if you haveâ€”with a whole new appreciation for all that is there.
As in Meissner's other recent works, this book gives the reader two stories in one, alternating between a contemporary story and a fictionalized account of an historical character, in this case Francesca Eleonora (Nora) Orsini, granddaughter of Cosimo I de Medici, who suffered a tragic childhood in Florence during the Renaissance. The contemporary story is shared by two women, Meg Pomeroy and Sophia Borelli, whose lives intersect in Florence and have much in common with Nora of the Renaissance. Together, Meg and Sophia must learn, as Nora did, the true meaning of renaissance.
I was totally drawn into the stories in this book and thought they all ended perfectly. Not only will this book appeal to those who enjoy great novels, but also to art enthusiasts, travelers, and those with an interest in the human mind. I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending a complimentary copy for this honest review.
This novel combines the lives of three women of different times and cultures. Meg is a southern California gal, an editor for a publisher of travel books. Sofia is an older woman of Florence who claims to be a descendant of the Medici family. She hears the whisperings of Nora Orsini, granddaughter of the great Cosimo I and living in the sixteenth century.
The lives of these three women cross when Meg travels to Florence, a childhood dream and the promise of her father. Meg is introduced to Sofia through a mutual friend. Throughout Meg's week in Florence, she tries to unravel Sofia's story.
Meissner has created an interesting character study of three women. Meg's grandmother had a painting of herself as a child in Florence and that had put the dream to travel there into Meg's heart. While her father had promised to make it happen, Meg's parents had divorced and he had never followed through.
Sofia is convinced she is of the Medici line even though historical records indicate there are no living descendants of that historically important family of Florence. When Sofia is by statues or paintings, she can hear the whispers of Nora Orsini whose mother was killed and father abandoned her in the late 1500s.
Meissner skillfully interweaves the lives of these three women. She highlights the similarities in their families. For example, Nora's father abandons her. Meg's father made a promise he has not kept and has essentially abandoned her. Sofia's father is in the deep well of dementia, essentially leaving her.
Most of the novel takes place in Florence and there is a bit of a travel book feel to the novel. Unfortunately, there were not the gripping descriptions of buildings, statues, etc., to make me feel like I was really there. There is a hint of romance throughout the novel as Meg tries to figure out who she really loves.
Mostly the book is about women who are trying to understand who they are in the midst of life happening around them.
There was actually nothing "Christian" about this novel. This is a descent novel but not captivating nor page turning. There are discussion questions at the end.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
This is the first book I've read by Ms. Meissner and I found the eBook, which was in PDF form, quite difficult on my iPod. Perhaps it would read better on a larger device. Overall, although I enjoyed the book, I don't believe I would have persevered in reading it if I didn't have the obligation to do a review. I was really confused by the double storyline for many chapters, then finally figured out what "Nora" was all about. It appeared that Meissner was using the hook of whether the main character would actually get to Florence, but that was not enough to have held my interest until more plot came along. I am, however, thankful that I had to read the book. Once the mystery about the character's father appeared, then I was hooked. I really needed to figure out what was up with him, and was a bit disappointed in the end. Perhaps a sequence will unbury his complete story.
I also think I has hoping for more Christianity in the story, but was pleased with the "cleanness" throughout the book. The contrast between real and fantasy was also intriguing. I do believe that an escape to fantasy to survive this life's sorrows can be very helpful--especially when I escape into a realm that brings glory to God. I believe that's exactly what my own story writing has helped me to do. When you create your own world, life appears and happens the way you want it to. I take heart at this comment about Nora: "Nora Orsini wanted to imagine that a different life could be hers. So she did. She looked at herself in a mirror and she painted the girl wanted to see." I can relate.
The imagery throughout the book was very good. I love books that can "talk" you into the scenery. The landscapes and the people came alive for me. I especially like the end where_ well, I won't spoil it for you, but the author knows what I'm talking about. The signature there tells it all and I found it a bit unbelievable how one of my know writers and characters did a very similar thing. I've learned a lot from reading this book. After all, reading is the doorway to writing.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.