The Glass Room – Simon Mawer


Set during WWII, every new inhabitant of the featured house falls under the spell of the glass room at its centre

Based on a real villa in Czechoslovakia, the house in this book is a minimalist masterpiece, with a transparent glass room as its centre. Built for Liesel and Viktor Landauer in the 1920s, the house becomes the central character in the novel and the story unfolds through the house and all the experiences that happen there.

“Liesel and Viktor live in the home with their young family, though soon Viktor’s mistress is a part of the family too, introducing the one of the book’s themes of sexual exploration. When Hitler gains more power in Europe the family leaves the United States, only to discover the home has been taken over the Nazis for laboratory experiments.

“Liesel’s friend Hana stays in their home country and witnesses all that happens to the house, the many occupants, its uses and its influence. Hana sticks by the house like an old friend as it harbours the many secrets of all whom pass through its walls.

A work of art like this,’ he tells one of the journalists, ‘demands that the life lived in it be a work of art as well. I am certain that Viktor Landauer and his beautiful wife will do the place justice.

❚ “Interesting in the way this story is told with the house being a character so that the plot is seen through the ‘eyes’ of the glass room – all of the major events of the story happen in the house.  I loved the characters and the relationships which were expertly embedded in a historical framework.  Very enjoyable.” – Jo

❚ “Though the glass room is transparent, it conceals so many secrets and deceits. I loved this thematic aspect of the book, with the room as a character. The architecture, the characters, their relationships, the war as a setting all combined seamlessly. The book was riveting and I did not want to put it down!”

Published 2009
Other Press
406 pages

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