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

Ann Summerville 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

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 an old dotard, her third locks her up in the house for days and won't let her out; and the last is a fop who a…

Review: This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart

Pages: 254Original date of publication: 1964My edition: 1964 (William Morrow)Why I decided to read: it was 90 degrees outside at the time and I decided it was time to read another book by a favorite authorHow I acquired my copy: from Susanna Kearsley, December 2009Sometimes, whether or not I decide to read a book depends on the weather. Mary Stewart’s books are best read on either very hot or very cold days; and since it was 90 degrees out one weekend a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this one would be perfect. And it was.This Rough Magic takes its title from The Tempest, a play from which this novel takes off. Lucy Waring is a struggling actress who comes to visit her sister on Corfu. One of her neighbors is a renowned actor who’s taken a bit of a sabbatical and his son, a musician with whom Lucy comes to blows at first. This Rough Magic is vintage Mary Stewart, with a murder or two, a mystery, romance, suspense, and lots of magic thrown in. Lucy is your typical Mary Stewart hero…

Review: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith

Pages: 294
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2010 (Harper Perennial)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, Phoenix, January 2011


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve read it, oh, half a dozen times, so I was interested to see how Joy in the Morning would compare.

Set in the late 1920s, Joy in the Morning begins when Annie, aged 18, comes to a small Midwestern college town where her fiancée, Carl, is in law school. The novel opens with their marriage in the county courthouse, and follows the couple through their first year or so of marriage. It’s a struggle, because Carl and Annie are basically children themselves, for all the ways in which Carl tries to appear more adult-like.

Annie is endearing; she’s ignorant but a voracious reader, reading everything from Babbitt to War and Peace. Betty Smith’s novels are pretty autobiographical; Joy in the Morning is (unofficially) a kind of sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—cert…