The Cornflower Book Group's October book, Touch Not The Cat, is set at the charming old English manor house Ashley Court. The book I've chosen as our November read also features a house, but one of a very different period and kind; it is a gleaming modern building which is at the heart of Simon Mawer's The Glass Room.
"On honeymoon in Venice in 1928, Viktor and Liesel Landauer face a new world when they meet brilliant architect Rainer von Abt. Soon, on a hillside near a provincial Czech town, the Landauer house with its celebrated Glass Room will become a modernist masterpiece of travertine floors and onyx walls, filled with light and optimism. But as Viktor is Jewish, when Nazi troops arrive the family must flee.
The house slips from hand to hand, Nazi to Soviet and finally to the Czechoslovak state. It becomes a laboratory, a shelter from the storm of war, and a place where the broken and the ruined find some kind of comfort until, with the collapse of Communism, the Landauers can finally return to where their story began."
I was going to quote from some of the reviews of the book, but if I begin I'll be here all day - they are starry indeed. The novel was shortlisted for (among others) the 2009 Man Booker Prize and the 2010 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and as Wolf Hall won both of those, we know the competition was stiff and it was in exalted company. But considering the book now from the point of view of 'the casual reader' rather than that of the critics or a panel of judges, it is heartening to know that the members of the Mainstreet Trading Company book group voted it a favourite! I hope we shall all enjoy it as much as they did.
If we set our discussion date as from Saturday, 24th. November, we should have plenty of time to read it, and as to availability, it seems to be easy enough to get hold of both from libraries and retailers here and abroad, though The Book Depository will supply it with free worldwide delivery if local sources don't have it. Everyone is very welcome to join in, sharing their thoughts and impressions of the book, come the day, in as succinct or discursive a manner as you choose!
By the way, if you'd like to see the real modernist house which was the inspiration for the Landauers' home, click here - others may prefer to let a mental image develop as they read (though there are line drawings in the book).