Skip to main content

Review: The Glass-Blowers, by Daphne Du Maurier


Pages: 368
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2004 (Virago)
Why I decided to read: it’s been on my TBR list forever
How I acquired my copy: Online, February 2011


The Glass-Blowers is the story of the Bussons, a family of glassblowers in the late 18th century (and ancestors to Daphne Du Murier). The story is told through the eyes of their sister, Sophie Duval, married to a master glassblower. The novel takes the family. Daphne Du Maurier wrote frequently about various members of her ancestors and family members, and this is a fantastic fictional account of the French Revolution and the effects it had on one family.

Daphne Du Maurier is one of my favorite authors, but sadly, this to me wasn’t one of her better books. There’s not much about the glassblowing trade in this novel, and the details the reader gets on the events of the period are sketchy. Granted, Sophie Duval spends most of her time out in the countryside, but maybe the story could have been told from the point of view of a different member of the family? There were stretches in this novel where not much happens, which was a bit of a disappointment. But when there was action, such as the scene when the Vendeans come into their village, that are truly harrowing. I’m continually amazed, through reading fiction and nonfiction about the French Revolution, by how brutal people were.

The author’s strengths, however, lie in characterization. Robert Busson, with his pretensions to grandeur, has the most heartbreaking story of them all—but in a way, he brings all of what happens to him on himself. I also enjoyed reading about how the Du Maurier family got their name—a bit of self-invention at its finest! I’m a little bit partial towards Daphne Du Maurier’s books, and so I’m rating this higher than I normally would, but I don’t think it’s one of her best.

Comments

Cozy in Texas said…
Thanks for the review. I'm currently reading The Loving Spirit by Daphne DuMaurier
I've only read two Du Mauriers: Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel, and loved them both. I started reading this last year, but gave up about three pages in, as it didn't sound typically Du Maurier, and I was in the mood for a typical Du Maurier, as the case oft' is.

I will go back to this one, as I do want to read her entire backlist... but your review does make me feel slightly less guilty abandoning it just three pages in! I *will* finish it though...

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…