The Glass Room, Simon Mawer
… Love seems a relative quality, not a unitary thing that can exist independent of an object. Love for, love of, never just love.
A mixed bag. My overall feeling is that this book had an incredible amount of potential, I’m just not sure it achieved what could have been achieved. Overall I like the story, which is basically chronicling the history of a provincial Czech town through the second world war. The focus is however on how the lives of the characters change over time.
Mawer has a really intelligent focus on language; the characters themselves mix Czech, German and French, with the author self consciously pointing out errors or difficulties in the translation into English. People’s dialects and struggles to make themselves understood mingle with the greater theme of identity – personal follows national follows political and so on.
The setting of the Landauer house which contains the glass room itself is really unique (and sounds architecturally like something Kevin McCloud would approve of!) and gives the book so much of its style.
Worth a read but I couldn’t help thinking that Mawer had tried to do too much and consequently didn’t do enough.