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The Glass Room
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Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room. High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of WW2 gather, and eventually the family must flee, accompanied by Viktor's lover and her child. But the house's story is far from over, and as it passes from hand to hand, from Czech to Russian, both the best and the worst of the history of Eastern Europe becomes somehow embodied and perhaps emboldened within the beautiful and austere surfaces and planes so carefully designed, until events become full-circle.
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*Review coverage *Bound proofs

About the Author

Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He now lives with his wife and two children in Italy, and teaches at the English School in Rome.

Reviews

Sarah's Key meets The Fountainhead in this Holocaust-themed novel with an architectural marvel in the leading role. As a wave of modernism sweeps across Europe in the aftermath of World War I, Czech newlyweds Victor and Liesel Landauer embrace the future and engage a daring German architect to plan their new home. Built with new materials of chrome, glass, and steel, the house features an onyx wall and a glass room designed to showcase modern art and sculpture and to serve as an inviting space for parties and concerts. But the Nazi storm troopers are on their inexorable march through Europe, and Victor is Jewish, so the Landauers abandon their beloved home and take flight. The rest of the story follows the fate of their house as it changes hands through the shifting political tides of Nazism, communism, and a return to democracy. Verdict What begins as a gripping, war-era family saga loses some momentum when the Landauers exit center stage. Nonetheless, this worthy Man Booker nominee deserves to find an appreciative audience.-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

PRAISE FOR SWIMMING TO ITHACA ** 'The Cypriot narrative blooms with life, a certain intrigue and some sharply drawn characters' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY ** 'Conjures up a 1950s world of carob trees, cocktails and rebellion' THE TIMES ** 'A gripping read' SUNDAY TIMES

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