15 March 2013

Review: The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner

Marguerite (Meg) Pomeroy was promised a trip to Florence, her Nonna’s birthplace, as a high school graduation gift, but she’s now almost thirty and her father still hasn’t taken her. Now she might finally be going, and hopes to connect with Lorenzo and Renata DiSantis, the brother-and-sister pair who write and photograph travel books published by her San Diego employer. And she might also get to meet Sophia, their neighbour, a tour guide and would-be author who claims to be descended from the famous Medici family.

The Girl in the Glass is written from three perspectives: Meg’s first-person story, the first-person musings of a betrothed girl named Nora, and Sophia’s memoir. But it took quite a while to work out who Nora was (a long-dead Medici) and what relationship she had with the rest of the story (Sophia claims to hear Nora speak through art works).

This made The Girl in the Glass quite hard going at first – in fact, I stopped reading at the 25% mark, because the points of view were confusing, nothing had happened, and I was getting annoyed with Meg moaning about wanting to go to Florence but not doing anything about it (goodness, this is the twenty-first century. Women can travel on their own, even such distances as San Diego to Florence). But I eventually picked it up again—and had to start again from the beginning, to remind myself what I was reading.

At this point I was thinking that Sophia's memoir was fascinating, a book I'd like to read even though I'm not a fan of art or memoir. Nora's short reflections of her childhood were interesting, even though it wasn't clear how these fitted into the larger story. Meg’s story? Uninspiring. Boring, even. The writing was lovely. But there wasn’t enough story for my liking (or perhaps it was just that Meg had yet to prove herself likeable). Anyway, I persevered.

Finally, at the 28% point, something happened, and by the 40% mark, Meg was on her way to Florence, and the story picked up pace. Finally. But now I can’t tell you what happens, because that would be a spoiler. Suffice to say, the second half of the book was much better than the first and the ending was both perfect and unexpected. I’ve visited Florence, and these scenes both brought back memories and made me want to see the city again, this time through Meg’s eyes and with Sophia as a guide.

The Girl in the Glass is published by WaterBrook, a Christian publisher, but the book hardly mentioned God or religion at all. If you’re looking for a novel with a strong Christian message, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for inspirational women’s fiction, this may well suit, as long as you can get past the first hundred pages.

Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah and BloggingforBooks® for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Susan Meissner at her website.

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