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ARC Review: Sisters of Glass

my thoughts in a few sentences: A lovely story full of wonderful and breathtaking prose, Sisters of Glass is told in verse and, for my first time, I was blown away by the depth and imagination behind each sentence. Much like a bedtime story we would read to younger siblings or our children to breed beautiful dreams of happily ever afters, perfect words lulling them to sleep like a perfect lullaby, Sisters of Glass is a short delight that paints with words instead of colors and creates amazing portraits of the unspoken.

hooking first line: "I feel Giovanna's fire as Mother prepares me for suitors, polishes me while Giovanna polishes glass"

Rating: Sud-Kissed | Knopf/Random House • NetGalley • Historical Fiction • 3/27/12 • $12.77



Maria is the younger daughter of an esteemed family on the island of Murano, the traditional home for Venetian glassmakers. Though she longs to be a glassblower herself, glassblowing is not for daughters—that is her brother's work. Maria has only one duty to perform for her family: before her father died, he insisted that she be married into the nobility, even though her older sister, Giovanna, should rightfully have that role. Not only is Giovanna older, she's prettier, more graceful, and everyone loves her.

Maria would like nothing more than to allow her beautiful sister, who is far more able and willing to attract a noble husband, to take over this role for her. But they cannot circumvent their father's wishes. And when a new young glassblower arrives to help the family business and Maria finds herself drawn to him, the web of conflicting emotions grows even more tangled.
A quick read that ignites so much insight into the world is exactly what I needed today, without realizing. It's amazing how books can sometimes identify our moods better than ourselves. Sisters of Glass shows us a world full of vibrancy, in the people and the places they live, leaving us to wonder and love what we sometimes cannot see with our own eyes but with the eyes and words of someone else, someone like Stephanie Hemphill. Sisters of Glass is harmless relief and quiet indulgence, and I enjoyed every second, despite the opening to infer so much where aspects remain unclear. However, THAT is absolutely part of the fun of reading Sisters of Glass.

Some may argue that there's no depth in such a fanciful, poetic telling of a sweet love story, one between family and between lovers, but I have to disagree. Hemphill obviously carefully entwined so much emotion with her soft words, as cautiously as the glassmakers she presents to us would handle their glass worlds of color. The emotion and images she sketches with her words are dazzling and enrich the story in a way that I don't think would've been quite possible in a conventionally written story. Yes, there's so much left up to interpretation, but there's truth and a conclusion that warms our melting hearts.

When do we object to happily ever afters, after all? Whimsical words, endearing characters, and a weaving of events that sits exactly right and wouldn't work any other way. A fabulous, rich story suitable for those quiet moments before bed or for our times of despair when a quick boost is necessary, Sisters of Glass holds subtle wonders in its thin pages, ones that should be visited, explored, and marveled at, much like the extraordinary glass pieces and their kind makers we encounter.

Giovanna loves glass like she loves singing,
because like a melody she enhances its beauty
with her touch.
Marino loves glass because his investment
brings prosperity and growth.
As with a gardener,
his well-managed, well-tended furnace produces
great fruit.
Paolo creates himself
in each goblet, beaker, bowl
he blows. He cannot really see himself without
his reflection in the glass's eye.
Uncle Giova knows nothing but glass; it is his
past, present, and future—the fornica
in his home.
I love glass
because I love my father. (12%)

14 comments:

Sarah said...

Oh, Asher, you write the most beautiful reviews. This sounds amazing. I've never read a book written in verse! Oh, I love that feelin when you find a book that just makes you HAPPY! Love! <3

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

I agree with Sarah - your reviews are so perfect! This sounds like a sweet book and another one I have to get round to soon. I'm glad you thought it had a lot of emotional depth despite being a quick read. Awesome review! :)

Asher_Knight said...

Aw, thanks, Sarah <33 It really brought me into this glass bubble of emotions and BEAUTIFUL writing. I think it was the writing really that did me in. It's a really long poem, and I read it and grasped it that way. A story being told using poetry, rather than a book told in verse, do you know what I mean? Hope you enjoy it if you decide to give it a whirl.

Asher_Knight said...

 *blushes* Aw, Sam. It's the poetry in everything that resonated so much with me. It's absolutely beautiful, the wording. :)

Rebecca (Kindle Fever) said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! It definitely sounds like a good read and quite different in the way it's written. I'm super curious, that's for sure! Awesome review. :)

Asher_Knight said...

It's funny because I had absolutely no idea what this book was about other than what I'd read in the summary. I had no idea it was told in verse, I didn't know that it was a short book. I thought the prose so wonderful and dreamy and JUST OH. I love Hemphill's writing. It felt like a gift. 

April Books & Wine said...

Oh, Sisters Of Glass sounds great. I mean, I've seen a review that wasn't a fan of it, which is fine, no one has to like the same things. But, I may still give it a change after reading your review. I love verse books!

Bonnie @ A Backwards Story said...

I didn't realize this was in verse!  I have an ARC as well that I've been weanting to read.  You just excited me all over again with your review.  Thank you!

Sarah (saz101) said...

 Ooooh, "A story being told using poetry, rather than a book told in verse." Now I'm even more excited ;D
Yes. I know what you mean :D
It's kind of making me think of the old classic AMAZING poems... like Rime of the Ancient Mariner or Eloisa to Abelard?

Asher_Knight said...

Maybe it's the shine on the concept of reading my first verse novel but I was completely dazzled by the writing, and it felt like a story you would tell a kid before sleeping - quick, light, imaginative. 

Asher_Knight said...

 I didn't either! It was a total surprise, and I enjoyed it all the more for it.

Asher_Knight said...

EXACTLY. It has a classic poem feel to it. I feel like I'm not explaining it totally right or conveying the beauty in it properly, but you should try it out just to get a feel for it. :)

Bookworm1858 said...

Nice insight-I didn't really like this book and I wonder if I was frustrated with the inferences since I do prefer more clear-cut writing.

Asher_Knight said...

 I can see how those parts would be annoying for some, but I just enjoyed the heck out of it for its lushness. :D