Thursday, June 15, 2017

THE GLASS-BLOWERS








The Glass-Blowers, Daphne Du Maurier, Doubleday & Company, 1963, 348 pp
 
 
Daphne Du Maurier has two distinct voices as a novelist. One is the gothic, psychological voice of Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, and others. The second is the one she uses for her historical fiction, as in The King's General or Mary Anne. The Glass-Blowers, #8 on the 1963 bestseller list, is in the historical fiction mode. The author was descended from a family of glass-blowers and honors them with her novel.

Some readers are more pleased with the gothic novels but I like both of her genres, especially because in the historical ones I always learn pieces of history I didn't know. This one takes place in several renowned glass-blowing establishments, operated by the Duval family and situated south of Paris. It covers the period of time leading up to the French Revolution through to Napoleon becoming emperor. The political upheaval of those times causes great disturbances for the family including loss of business and division between family members who sided with the Republic and those who were Loyalists to the King.

Though it was sometimes tricky to keep all the family members, locations, and political factions straight, I was never less than captivated by the story. It is full of intrigue, heartbreak, and hardship. As in any family saga, there are heroes and heroines alongside less admirable characters. I loved the ways the family dealt with all the problems and divided views. Several awesome female characters are central to the tale.

Best of all, the novel gave me another side of the Revolution than the one taught in school. It showed the daily and yearly challenges that such political turmoil brought to the livelihoods and history of families, especially families who were intrinsic to the character of the society and nation that was France in the late 18th century.

I finished the book with the realization that my knowledge of the French Revolution and its outcomes is rather thin. I have decided to read A Tale of Two Cities (how have I gone through the majority of my life without reading that?) and Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund, which has lingered on my shelves for years.

11 comments:

  1. Nice review, Judy!

    I read the first installment in the Josephine B. trilogy by Sandra Gulland about Josephine Bonaparte's life before Napoleon, and it goes in-depth about the Reign of Terror. Quite a reading, which reminds me that I have to finish that trilogy at some point.

    BTW, I have scheduled this book to read in either August or September, so it's nice to read your perspective on it. I'm also planning to read Rebecca (for the first time) in the next two or three months as well.

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    1. That trilogy looks great. I will have to add it to my growing list of novels about the revolution and the empire. Yesterday on Goodreads I was reading someone's review of The Glass-Blowers and was reminded of two more: A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel and City of Darkness, City of Light by Marge Piercy. Have you read either of those? Perhaps it will be a French Revolution summer! I look forward to hearing how you do with Ms Du Maurier!

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    2. I haven't read those, but I've made a note to find out more.

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    3. Cool! Today I am going to see Wonder Woman. Have you seen it?

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    4. No, I will wait for it to come out on rental. Enjoy! I've read great reviews of it.

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  2. I've enjoyed all of Daphne du Maurier's books, although this isn't one of my favourites and I do usually prefer the more gothic ones. A Tale of Two Cities is great - I'll look forward to hearing what you think of it!

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    1. I hope to get to it this summer!

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  3. I definitely hope to read this in the future. I also hope you enjoy A Tale of Two Cities,I really enjoyed it when I read it (for the first time too) earlier this year.

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    1. Thanks Jessica. With both of my most trusted historical fiction bloggers praising it, I am looking forward to it!

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  4. Oh I like reading about the French Revolution -- I read Christopher Hibbert's nonfiction books a long while ago & they seemed quite readable. I didn't know Du Maurier had written a novel about it. This one seems interesting. Sena Jeter Naslund is a great storyteller! Her novel Ahab's Wife hooked me and now you tell she has one on the F.R.? oh wow

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    1. I have heard so much about Ahab's Wife. Her French Revolution novel is mostly about Marie Antoinette but I am sure there is much about the politics of the time.

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