Overall I would give this book about 3.5. The last 20 percent of it was very good. First 80% dragged. It took quite a whle to get to the real point of the book. Ms. Howe did a good job of jumping between time periods and telling her story of opium dens, titantic and fate. Definately worth reading could have developed plot line quicker though.
Let me first say that I LOVED The Physick Book of Deliverance Dance. It was way out of my normal realm of reading. At the time, I hadn't dabbled into much historical fiction, especially with a paranormal aspect intertwined. I waited for quite awhile to get The House of Velvet and Glass and I was chomping at the bit to just go out and buy it before it came to me through PBS. I dove right in as soon as it arrived. Sadly, I couldn't even finish it. I got through 112 pages before giving up. It just kept dragging and dragging for me. I kept waiting, telling myself, "maybe the next chapter" but I had to give up. I was finding myself putting it aside, or putting off even reading it. Maybe its one that I can try to pick up again another time, to try again. I sure hope so
This was the October 2013 pick in my online book club, The Reading Cove.
I've officially renamed it THE HOUSE OF SNORES AND YAWNS, it's much more fitting. If you enjoy slow, meandering, overly descriptive and near-plotless historical fiction, you may be among those who enjoy this book.
I loved Ms Howe's previous book the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. Unfortunately, I could not get into the story beyond the Prologue, and tried to push it to about page 100 and gave up. It was so disappointing to do that but my reading time is too valuable to waste it on books that don't interest me.
In her second novel, Katherine Howe brings us back to Boston with a story that has a similar structure to that of her debut. Our main characters are in the Bostonian upper class just after the turn of the century, and on the cusp of the United States entering WWI, with segments of the story taking place a couple of decades earlier in Shanghai, as well as the last day aboard the Titanic. The story starts with Helen and Eulah enjoying a day on the ill-fated ship, oblivious to what awaits them, and then cuts to the present day of the novel: Sibyl at a séance on the anniversary of the sinking of the ship that took her mother and sister with it.
While the story does have a bit of a fantastical element to it, its mostly a look at grief, addiction, and the trappings of life during this time period. In searching for more answers about what has happened to her mother and sister, Sibyl quite accidentally discovers that she can see visions in a mystical ball of glass given to her by a medium, known as a scrying glass. One catch: she has to be high on opium to see these visions.
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Melissa Z. reviewed The House of Velvet and Glass on
Was first interested in the book because I thought it would have a lot to do with the Titanic. However, found that the Titanic tradgedy was a smaller piece of the story. Although, as I read along I became intrigued by the story unfolding and by the end of the novel was stunned at how exciting the story actually was. I would definately recommend this novel!!!!
This novel includes chapters from 3 viewpoints; a sailor in the 1860's, his wife and younger daughter on the Titanic in 1912; and his older daughter in 1912 and several years after. I didn't find it hard to follow, and was intrigued with the characters dealing with methods/ability to 'see' the future and the difficulties it caused them.
This historical fiction novel alternates stories of several members of the Allston family suffering losses from the tragic sinking of the Titanic. The settings feel real and the characters are beautifully developed. The story adds a supernatural or mystical element with the inclusion of psychic mediums viewing a scrying glass to see the future. The plot is somewhat slow to develop in the beginning but I found myself quite drawn in later.