The House of Velvet and Glass

The House of Velvet and Glass

Book - 2012
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Katherine Howe, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with an entrancing historical novel set in Boston in 1915, where a young woman stands on the cusp of a new century, torn between loss and love, driven to seek answers in the depths of a crystal ball.
Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in an elegant town house in Boston's Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium.
But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium's scrying glass.
From the opium dens of Boston's Chinatown to the opulent salons of high society, from the back alleys of colonial Shanghai to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass weaves together meticulous period detail, intoxicating romance, and a final shocking twist that will leave readers breathless.
Publisher: New York : Hyperion, c2012
Edition: 1st international ed. --
ISBN: 9781401341961
Branch Call Number: FIC Howe
Characteristics: 417 p


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Jun 11, 2015

This was a disappointment. It lacked depth, flow, and a genuine plot.

Jun 23, 2014

I had high expectations for The House of Velvet and Glass. Katherine Howe wowed me with The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane so I was expecting more of the same.

That'll teach me! This second book of hers is pretty much nothing like her first. It was slow in development- more than halfway into it, I was wondering if there'd be any element of the supernatural. There is, but it's not crucial to the plot. The plot is basically a drama with a stiff, unconvincing romance thrown in for good measure.

The things I liked:
Touching on the helplessness of grief, and the way it changes people
A female protagonist who is so Type A it's painful
Plot nods to prominent social issues of the nineteen-teens, like women's suffrage, opium addiction, the changing face of lunacy, and the Great War

The things I disliked:
Suuuuper slow plot
Wandering messages (is this about Fate? Grace? Or just an excuse to write about the time period?)
Loose ends too neatly tied up

So you can see, if I went into it assuming it was an historic drama, I would have been pleasantly surprised and perhaps enjoyed it more. I recommend it for fans of nineteen-teens historic fiction, Boston history, and multiple POV & timelines.

Sep 04, 2013

Guilt ridden and shut off from the world, it doesn't seem that Sybil can help anyone including herself. The grief that surround her family from the deaths of her mother and sister is not lessened by any of the activities that they pretend to enjoy. Until a seance gives Sybil the tool to look into the future and see beyond her life into the lives of others. What she sees there is rooted in the past; her father has the same gift. And what they know is going to happen will change the family forever. Set in the early 20th century this story weaves a spell adroitly.

ehbooklover Mar 01, 2013

I almost put this one down but didn’t because I loved the author’s first book so much. Despite the obviously well researched details, the atmospheric setting, and the potential for a truly gripping story, this book ultimately fell a wee bit flat for me due to its dragging plot and lack of action.

mrsgail5756 Dec 29, 2012

Interesting book for some, not one of my favorites.

Jun 24, 2012

Weak, unsympathetic characters, abandoned plot threads. I found this book shallow and unsatisfying, even for a light summer read.

Jun 04, 2012

I read her previous book, The Psycik book of Diliverance Dane.
This one was just as good. It had to do with mysticism and the sinking of the Titanic and it's affect on the survivors. I found it to be a very moving story.


May 03, 2012

I really enjoyed her first book but this one..well, not so much. Perhaps it's the surfeit of all things Titanic that have been around lately or the fact that the plot moves at a snail's pace. I kept waiting for something to happen, something that would tie together all the flashbacks, some thread that would make it all coherent but I must have missed it. Instead, I had to keep putting it down as my eyes kept closing. It lacks the intrigue & surprising turns of her first book so I'm afraid it just didn't hold my interest.

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