Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Glass Room

After all the folly of reading YA-fiction, I had to tip the scales again in a more favourable direction.

The Glass Room is exactly what I needed to quickly forget the teen drama I momentarily lost myself in. And that at my age..

In all earnestness though, The Glass Room was a work of art. Mawer's grasp on language is phenomenal, be it English, German or Czech.
The novel is build around one house, a museum, one that truly exists but I still have to do a bit of googling to see pictures.

The house is being build by a wealthy Czech family, The Landauers, after they meet a reputable architect on their honeymoon. Liesl and Viktor Landauer have futuristic ideas about their home and with the help of Rainer Von Abt they realise that dream.

The house stands as a backbone against the turmoil of political and economic crisis, at the very onset of the German Reich.
With Viktor being a jew, he is forced to emigrate with his family to a safer place and ultimately ends up in America, never to set his eyes onto his home again.

Before any of that happen, we get a good glimpse of how Czech life must have been for the wealthy. While they hear through the grapevine of growing unrest in Germany, they live their lives with or without faults.
Infidelity, unrequited love and sacrifices for the greater good are all part of their lives, even dipped in luxury and fine arts.

When the Landauer family has to emigrate, the house remains the setting of life during the German siege. Being used as a laborotory or as test ground for a new kind of airplane, even as a gymnasium for children suffering from polio when Czecho-Slovakia is under the Communist rule.

It's a story about a certain period in our time, one that still leaves a remarkable stain even after all those years.
It's also a story about a family, their friends and their servants and how they survived during the war.

The narration is quick paced and laced with beautiful prose. The house is presented as a work of art and described in detail, but the language with which it is being described is art in itself. It's in a sense very realistic, explaining even the choice of words on a few occasions, but then again it has a uncanny sense of playing with those very same words, that you are sometimes unsure of what you are reading precisely.

Illusion may be nurtured in ignorance.
I enjoyed reading this novel very much, even if I had to do it quickly. (Nothing like library due date to get off my ass and begin reading!)
This is the reason I like to read, to discover those rare pearls that let's you discover an period in time and place you might never have thought of otherwise.

“She knows what it is to be sad and miserable, but those emotions are almost enjoyable. They throw moments of happiness and laughter into sharper relief.” Hana Hanakova.