Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Glassmaker

The Glassmaker by Tracy Chevalier
6/18/24; 416 pages

The Glassmaker by Tracy Chevalier follows a family of glassmakers from the height of Renaissance-era Italy to the present day. It is highly recommended historical fiction melded with magic realism.

Orsola Rosso is the eldest daughter in a family of glassblowers on Murano, the island near Venice known for the craft. It is 1486 and Venice is a trade center for the glassmakers of Murano. After her father dies in an accident, her brother Marco takes over the family business and he is struggling to support the family. As a woman, she is not meant to be a glassmaker, but she learns the craft of making glass beads in order to help her family.

From this point the novel moves through six centuries, from the late 15th century, when Orsola is a child, on through to the present day, when she’s in her late 60s.  Chevalier tells us that "time passes differently" on the island and Orsola and her family age slowly as they live through historical events across hundreds of years. History moves forward as they live from the Italian Renaissance through the plague, the Napoleonic era, and world wars into the 21st century and Covid-19. I found the time jumps interesting and the novel entrancing until they rushed into more current events. It was toward the end of a lovely novel that my rating dropped a point.

The writing is extraordinary in every way. The characters are all exceptionally well-written as fully realized individuals. They come to life on the pages. The descriptions of places, glass, historical times, events, and people are wonderful and perfectly capture the essence of every scene. I loved everything about The Glassmaker until the end and the time jumps went disastrously into current events. If you can accept and go with the magic realism and jumps through time, this is an enchanting novel. Thanks to Viking for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

No comments: