Friday, July 23, 2010
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
But gilded perfect lives rarely stay that way. There are strains on the marriage as the years pass. Children arrive and their love moves to a settled relationship and each starts to venture outside the marriage for friendship and romance. As the years pass and move inevitably towards the mid-1940's, all of Europe changes with the advent of the Nazi Party and Hitler's unstoppable drive to rule all that he sees. Viktor is Jewish. He is not observant, but that makes no difference. Viktor clearly sees what is coming. He manages to convince Liesel that they must leave, and with their children, nanny and her child who has been raised with their children, they move to Switzerland. They learn what is going on from friends and family that remain behind. All that they treasured is lost. Many of their friends are caught up in the Nazi horrors and their glorious house built to celebrate a new age is now a "research station" where people are measured in an attempt to find the markers that separate Jew from non-Jew.
The Glass Room has a 2009 finalist for the Man Booker Prize. In it, Mawer leads the reader through the horror of what man can do to man without clubbing them over the head with unceasing details. He also shows how men and women hurt each other while trying to carve out a place of safety and love for themselves. The book not only covers the years of World War II, but the Communist era that followed in this area. It is highly recommended for all readers and is a book I'll remember for a long time.