The Girl in the Glass
Another Home Run for Susan Meissner
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.
April 9, 2014
Three stories in one
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.
November 4, 2013
Nora of Florence
"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!)
September 19, 2013
Marguerite (Meg) Pomeroy was promised a trip to Florence, her NonnaÃ¢ÂÂs birthplace, as a high school graduation gift, but sheÃ¢ÂÂs now almost thirty and her father still hasnÃ¢ÂÂt taken her. Now she might finally be going, and hopes to connect with Lorenzo and Renata DiSantis, the brother-and-sister pair who write and photograph travel books published by her San Diego employer. And she might also get to meet Sophia, their neighbour, a tour guide and would-be author who claims to be descended from the famous Medici family.
Girl in the Glass is written from three perspectives: MegÃ¢ÂÂs first-person story, the first-person musings of a betrothed girl named Nora, and SophiaÃ¢ÂÂs memoir. But it took quite a while to work out who Nora was (a long-dead Medici) and what relationship she had with the rest of the story (Sophia claims to hear Nora speak through art works).
This made the story quite hard going at first Ã¢ÂÂ in fact, I stopped reading at the 25% mark, because the points of view were confusing, nothing had happened, and I was getting annoyed with Meg moaning about wanting to go to Florence but not doing anything about it (goodness, this is the twenty-first century. Women can travel on their own, even such distances as San Diego to Florence). But I eventually picked it up againÃ¢ÂÂand had to start again from the beginning, to remind myself what I was reading.
At this point I was thinking that Sophia's memoir was fascinating, a book I'd like to read even though I'm not a fan of art or memoir. Nora's short reflections of her childhood were interesting, even though it wasn't clear how these fitted into the larger story. MegÃ¢ÂÂs story? Uninspiring. Boring, even. The writing was lovely. But there wasnÃ¢ÂÂt enough story for my liking (or perhaps it was just that Meg had yet to prove herself likeable). Anyway, I persevered.
Finally, at the 28% point, something happened, and by the 40% mark, Meg was on her way to Florence, and the story picked up pace. Finally. But now I canÃ¢ÂÂt tell you what happens, because that would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, the second half of the book was much better than the first and the ending was both perfect and unexpected. IÃ¢ÂÂve visited Florence, and these scenes both brought back memories and made me want to see the city again, this time through MegÃ¢ÂÂs eyes and with Sophia as a guide.
This book is published by WaterBrook, a Christian publisher, but the book hardly mentioned God or religion at all. If youÃ¢ÂÂre looking for a novel with a strong Christian message, this isnÃ¢ÂÂt it. If youÃ¢ÂÂre looking for inspirational womenÃ¢ÂÂs fiction, this may well suit, as long as you can get past the first hundred pages.
Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah and BloggingforBooksÃÂ® for providing a free ebook for review.
March 17, 2013