Archive for November, 2010

Through a Glass Darkly

The (real) Glass Room

Before the meeting last night, I must admit to feeling a bit booked out. After a week spent reading and talking six different books, I thought I was going to find it pretty hard to summon up much enthusiasm for the seventh (especially, as you all know, it wasn’t really my cup of tea).  I was also a bit worried that they all might slide into a big literary mush in my head and I’d end up talking about the wrong set of characters…

It turns out I should have had more faith in you all because the discussion instigated by our readings of The Glass Room was easily the most book related fun I’ve had all week. It helped, of course, that there was so much in there to get our teeth into- a great sweep of turbulent mid- 20th century European history with a group of characters caught right at it’s centre. There was also the “glass room” itself which served as an anchoring point for the novel and a thought-provoking symbol throughout. And thats not even mentioning the interweaving troubled relationships and the seemingly never ending (bad) sex scenes…

And, in general, the book met with approval, with special praise going to the evocative prose style, the symbolism and the excellent characterization, though a small war did break out over the merits (or otherwise) of Hana. Many people also enjoyed finding out that the novel was based on real events and that “the glass room”, or Villa Tugendhat, does indeed exist. (For those of you who were keen for a few more facts, just click this link.) We did have a small problem with the rather too convenient ending and the over-reliance of the plot on coincidence but really it was only me who had a problem with the novel as a whole (overwritten, ponderous, needed editing etc. etc.). Never mind, in this case I am happy to be overruled and to pronounce The Glass Room to be a hit.

Now the dark nights are setting in, I’m looking forward to getting onto the classics next month; there’s something about winter that makes me want to stay in and read Victorian novels. So, just in time for Christmas, we have Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (to get you in the mood for the million versions of A Christmas Carol you will have to endure over the festive season). We’ll also be having some egg nogg, mince pies and figgy pudding (well, some christmas related nibbles) to mark the end of another brilliant book group year. See you soon. x


About the group

Sunderland Book Group meets on the third Wednesday of every month at 6pm at Holmeside Coffee in Sunderland.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit

November 2010