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Review: The Glass Room

February 18, 2010

Newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer hire an architect to build them a modern house in their home of Czechoslovakia.  (Money is not really an object since Viktor owns Landauer Motors – a manufacturer of luxury automobiles.) The home the architect designs is stunning and stark.  Its most outstanding feature is a room with two glass walls that can be lowered into the basement.  The  Landauers come to call that the glass room.

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer revolves around that one room in the Landauers house.  The Landauers have two children and they use the room for their family, to entertain friends, and to host social events.  When they’re forced to flee Czechoslovakia because of the Nazi’s invasion (Viktor is Jewish), the house is seized by the government and the room is used for several different things.  As you read about the room’s uses, you learn of the characters who inhabit it.

Simon Mawer’s writing is beautiful, but I really struggled with The Glass Room.  The story unfolds slowly, so I kept waiting for something (anything) to happen that would make me feel invested in it.  The story is a little distant and cold, so I didn’t feel connected to the characters.  I never felt compelled to pick the book back up and was glad when I finally finished.  At times I wondered if I just wasn’t smart enough for this book because a lot of other bloggers loved it.

Review copy provided by Blue Dot Literary.   I am an Amazon Associate.
48 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2010 5:37 am

    Well, I do appreciate your honesty here. I had originally written the name of this book down in my list. There have been great reviews, but I could potentially lose patience if I had the same experience that you did.

  2. February 18, 2010 5:49 am

    I’ve read several rave reviews for this too, but hesitated to read it. I was fearing an experience similar to yours. It just doesn’t sound like the book for me, at least not at this time. I’m impressed you kept going and finished!

  3. February 18, 2010 7:08 am

    Thanks for the honest review. I hope to start this book soon, if I ever get back into my normal reading routine. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, but I like to hear both sides of the story.

    I’ll link to your review on War Through the Generations if that’s okay.

  4. February 18, 2010 7:11 am

    I’m sure you are smart enough! Not every book is for everyone. I’m not sure that this would be my cup of tea either.

  5. February 18, 2010 8:00 am

    That’s the joy of reading…everyone has different opinions about books. I have this book on my wishlist and still plan to read it. I think sometimes books effect people differently and that may be the case for you with this one.

  6. February 18, 2010 8:17 am

    The concept sounds interesting — “if these walls could talk” — but if the characters are compelling then I can I understand the lack of appeal.

  7. February 18, 2010 8:27 am

    Wow! I would love to read this book. I hate to think what the Nazis might have used for while causing the Jewish population such sorrow. Great, great review.

  8. farmlanebooks permalink
    February 18, 2010 8:29 am

    I was one of the bloggers raving about this book. It was one of my favourite reads in 2009. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this book. I can see how you might feel distanced from the characters and it is hard to follow in places, but I loved the idea of following a house through several generations. I found the historical detail fascinating. Thank you for the honest review – it is always good to let people know that it isn’t for everyone.

  9. bethfishreads permalink
    February 18, 2010 8:42 am

    I am so on the fence about this one. I’ll probably pick it up from the library (someday) and give it a try. The concept interests me, but if I can’t invest in the characters and nothing happens, it will likely end up as a DNF (did not finish).

  10. February 18, 2010 9:08 am

    I really appreciate your honesty. I’ve had this feeling a few times, and I wonder if it’s me who hasn’t been able to “get” the book, or the book is weird in that sense.

  11. February 18, 2010 9:21 am

    Thanks for such an honest post – loved it! I have this book on my list of books to buy and I’m still going to get it and read it at some point. But I appreciated your review because it was clear about the ways in which you appreciated the book and didn’t. I honestly think you are a very smart person and this is easily reflected through your posts. I just think that this book falls under the whole “different strokes, different folks” category. Not every book is for everyone.

  12. February 18, 2010 9:25 am

    I think this is why I’m not a reviewer. If I don’t get invested in a book, I eventually put it down and don’t finish it. You, however, are a professional and I appreciate your reviews.

    Straight From Hel

  13. February 18, 2010 10:12 am

    Sorry it wasn’t for you… it is just one of those books that is like asparagus…. just not for some people. An acquired taste is all, so don’t think you were not smart enough.

  14. February 18, 2010 10:21 am

    Thanks for your honest reviews about this book. I am very interested in reading this, after hearing a lot of good things of this book. It’s nice to hear how you felt of the book as well, so I know wholly what to expect. Thanks!

  15. February 18, 2010 10:39 am

    I have been DYING to read this one. I requested it twice, with no luck. I expect it to be rather cold. I sort of like that feel to a book sometimes. Where you sort of have to pick it apart to get into it. I’m sorry you didn’t like it more.

  16. February 18, 2010 10:49 am

    I have this book on the shelf for review and hope to get to it soon. It sounded good. But thanks for the warning on the slow start!

  17. February 18, 2010 11:04 am

    Oh my gosh! Don’t say that! LOL If you are not smart enough because other bloggers liked the book, then I must be well below the average IQ score, because I often don’t like what other bloggers like. What happens if you like a book when others don’t? 🙂

    I haven’t heard of this book, but it does have an interesting premise; however, it probably wouldn’t be my cup of tea either. I NEED something to happen to maintain my interest.

    I hope you feel like a genius with your next book, because that’s where you are more likely to fall anyway. 🙂

  18. February 18, 2010 11:38 am

    I’m glad to finally know what this book is about because I’ve been too lazy to look it up on my own. It sounds like an interesting premise, though a very Postmodern story, maybe. Sounds like a lot of symbolism and flash rather than much warmth. I’ll give it a go, but I hope I can get a library copy!

  19. February 18, 2010 11:49 am

    Appreciate the honest review, too. Maybe I’ll check it out, when I have time.

  20. February 18, 2010 11:53 am

    I’ve seen this book around but it didn’t sound like it would interest me. Sorry it wasn’t enjoyable for you – can’t win them all right.

  21. February 18, 2010 12:03 pm

    I hate when I read a book others loved, and I don’t enjoy it. I keep wondering “am I missing something?” It happens, every book is different and appeals to different people.

    Great honest review!

  22. February 18, 2010 1:29 pm

    Of course you are smart enough. In fact, maybe you are too smart for this one. It sounds as if you expected more from this book. Thanks for your honest review.

  23. February 18, 2010 1:38 pm

    You are most definitely NOT alone. After reading over 200 pages, I had very little invested in anything but that marvelous house… and Mawer didn’t talk about it enough to save the book for me. I couldn’t even finish it. So Kathy– you have much more intestinal fortitude than I!!

  24. February 18, 2010 2:48 pm

    If I can’t connect with the characters, I can’t really enjoy the book so this is probably one for me to skip.

  25. February 18, 2010 6:25 pm

    Thanks for your honest review – I just ordered this book to read later this spring for a book group.

  26. February 18, 2010 6:58 pm

    YAY your blog is back on line.

    I am so sorry this book did not work for you. When Jackie sung its high praises, I went out and bought it (unread — and perhaps a bit longer now too).

  27. February 18, 2010 7:14 pm

    I so want to read this. I gave up buying books for Lent (I know! Crazy!) but I’m buying this the day after Easter- and possibly on Easter if I can get my husband to take me to a bookstore after church!

  28. February 18, 2010 7:38 pm

    I haven’t read this one, and despite all of the glowing reviews, it never really sounded like my style. So I’m a bit relieved to see a non-gushing review, lol.

  29. February 18, 2010 8:02 pm

    The cover really draws me in but I agree a book set in this time period, that is that slow, if not done right, seems off. I think it’s probably not for me. Thank you for your honesty!

  30. February 18, 2010 8:04 pm

    I think you’re plenty smart…this book just didn’t appeal to you that’s all. If I can’t feel some sort of connection with the characters then I leave the book feeling very sad and disappointed. I absolutely TRUST your opinions and won’t even bother with this one!

  31. February 18, 2010 8:31 pm

    I can see how this would be a slow read.

  32. Chelsea permalink
    February 18, 2010 8:44 pm

    Thanks so much for the honesty in your review! And, honestly, I’m glad to see that I wasn’t the only person going crazy about it either. I found the whole thing almost as stark as the glass walls the story was focused on.

  33. February 18, 2010 8:47 pm

    Not smart enough? I doubt it, but I love how up-front you are. I’ve had that sense with certain books, too.

  34. February 18, 2010 10:28 pm

    I too feel weird when I don’t like a book that every one else loves! But I guess we wouldn’t be so interested in every one else’s blogs if we all thought alike!

  35. February 18, 2010 10:36 pm

    Thanks for giving the other side of this one. Think I’m mark this as a “maybe.”

  36. February 19, 2010 12:15 am

    I think I’ll skip this one, didn’t really want to read it in the first place 🙂

  37. February 19, 2010 1:21 am

    I really am wary of slow books. I really can’t invest more time in books like these.

  38. February 19, 2010 3:14 am

    Sorry it didn’t work for you! I doubt it was because you’re not smart enough, though – taste is taste!

  39. February 19, 2010 5:19 am

    I’m sorry you didn’t like this as much as I did. =( I doubt it had anything to do with your brain, though, it’s just taste!

  40. February 19, 2010 11:00 am

    Oh dear, I think I might struggle with this one when I read it for the Man Booker Prize Challenge.

  41. February 19, 2010 12:32 pm

    Of course you are smart enough! Sometimes the way things are written keeps us from grasping or caring enough to try to grasp.

    I don’t think this particular book is for me.

  42. February 19, 2010 2:07 pm

    I love your review. It’s often nice to hear other opinions and I always respect yours. Thanks for this review.

  43. February 19, 2010 4:00 pm

    It does sound a bit esoteric! You crack me up, “I wonder if I just wasn’t smart enough.” Sometimes I’m in the mood for a ‘thinking’ book, and other times I simply want to read to be entertained.

  44. stacybuckeye permalink
    February 19, 2010 8:10 pm

    ‘distant and cold’ like a glass room? 😉 This doesn’t sound like a book for me.

  45. February 22, 2010 4:13 pm

    Sorry to hear that you couldn’t connect with this book. Maybe it was because the story focused on a room instead of the characters in it. It does sound like an interesting story, but I think I will heed your advice and skip this one.

  46. February 24, 2010 4:35 pm

    I liked this book, but understand what you meant about not connecting with the characters. I felt like the house was one of the main characters!

  47. March 6, 2010 8:47 am

    Oooh… I felt the same way about some books too. The relieved feeling was very, very welcomed.

  48. March 22, 2010 2:59 pm

    Thanks! will try and look into reading it.

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