The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

The Glass RoomA story that begins with the hope and promise of the 1920s and 1930s soon gives way to the uncertainty, brutality, and upheaval of World War II. Viktor (an architect and a Jew) and his wife Liesel (a gentile) appear to have it all — a stunning new home in Czechoslovakia, a cadre of friends and acquaintances with whom to spend their hours discussing art, literature, and all things avantgarde, and few worries for the future.

Even as the house brings delight, it also brings darkness into the couple’s lives. Before long, betrayal and discontent rises to the surface at the same time that Nazi soldiers enter their country on their mission of purification. Viktor and Liesel are forced to leave their home out of fear for Viktor’s Jewish heritage, and so begins a journey of survival for the couple while the home is turned over to one occupier and then another.

As much a character as its human counterparts, the home — and specifically the crystal room within it — has a compelling lure for all who have visited and eventually begins to pull Viktor and Liesel back as well.

This sweeping novel of love, lust, loss, betrayal, and the importance of place is destined to become a modern classic. It was a finalist for the 2009 Man Booker Prize and will have book clubs enthralled and in lively discussions across the country.

Other Press; ISBN 978-1-59051-396-5; $14.95.
The Glass Room: Reading Group Guide

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