House of Glass

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I requested this book from my local library within minutes of reading the Guardian review because I have a Pavlovian response to any book set in the early 20th century, coupled with jealousy that I didn’t write it myself (or, more accurately, didn’t get it published because House of Glass shares many memes with my first book, including gardening porn, Indian childhood, and difficult heroines). _____ 3 Gifts for the writer-reader: (1) Lovely, lyrical, often intensely poetic prose. Nice use of poetic fallacy; a heatwave of tension and climactic thunderstorm; corny – but worked. (2) A well developed heroine: feisty and questioning – so we, too, get lots of answers. Interesting and relevant back story and a consistent voice. (3) Tension and shock: I was genuinely jumpy reading the 1-2 pages when things going bump in the night; an effect achieved by short sentences, repetition, and lots of detail. _____ 3 things for the reader-writer to consider: (1) Take care to weave dates, ages and other specifics into the narrative. I got confused. I thought A was shagging B until I realised there was a 30 year age gap. (2) Avoid the long good bye. The 50 page slog post-denouement explaining life, the universe and everything (including the usual emotional tics of the Great War; Somme, mud, shell-shock) was pleasant but ultimately unsatisfying, like lingering in a cooling bath. (3) The Guardian review describes House of Glass as “part cheerful romp”. I didn’t get that but I was unsure what this book was… A Gothic drama? A historical romance? A country house mystery? A social commentary on debauched landed gentry and salt-of-the-earth farmers and gardeners (roll over DHL) and/or the fate of women 100 years ago (pregnant and shamed, young and abused, widowed and mad). And that I asked myself: did it matter so long as the reader is swept along by the story and feels herself part of that world? #amwriting #amreading #gothicnovel #historicalnovel #romance

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About Hannah

Author of literary historical fiction set in the First World War. Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, off-road runner. Africa, modern history, coffee, roses, films, book and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.
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