The Glass Woman

The Glass Woman
By Caroline Lea
This was a book that was recommended by many of you and I can totally understand why.
Set in Iceland in 1686 the story focuses on the character of a young woman called Rósa. She is from a small village where she lives with her recently widowed mother and life is a struggle until Rósa receives a proposal of marriage from Jón, the chieftain of a remote village. He has offered marriage to Rósa and she accepts on the condition that Jón will provide food and provisions to the village. Rósa makes the arduous journey to Stykkishólmur and her new home.
You get a sense straight away that all is not what it seems, there are peculiar noises in the croft, giving Rósa a sense that she is not alone. She has been warned to keep away from the loft that is securely locked at all times. With Jón and Petur, his assistant/companion, away at sea or working the fields, Rósa feels lonely and lost. Naturally she seeks out the company of the villagers but also, she wants answers. Unfortunately, they are not forth coming with information other than Jón’s previous wife turned to madness prior to her death at the hands of her husband, or so they believe. Rósa is warned to stay away from the village and its inhabitants by her ever-controlling husband. The story unravels and the answers come but there are twists and turns along the way as you live through Rósa’s miserable and ever-increasing dangerous life with her.
This is not a fast-paced plot by any means but it does build suspense and set against the backdrop of the bleak Icelandic winter it is intense and dark with a haunting feel to it. The oppressiveness of the recently fallen snow is mirrored with the over hanging feeling of suffocation within the croft. Secrets obviously lay heavy over the croft and there is much suspicion surrounding it and its inhabitants. What is making the noise in the loft? What did actually happen to Anna? Can Rósa discover the truth and escape before she herself becomes a victim to the strange happenings?
I would definitely recommend this book; it is well written with a great plot line that builds steadily. I can’t say that I felt any affiliation to any of the characters but I found that didn’t bother me because there is so much happening within the story.

Ronaldo The Phantom Carrot Snatcher

Ronaldo The Phantom Carrot Snatcher
Maxine Sylvester

Disclaimer – I was sent a copy of the book by the author in return for an honest review.

This is a magical funny tale of friendship that warms your heart.

Ronaldo and his best pal Rudi are rookie members of the Reindeer Flying Academy when they discover that carrots are being stolen so they make it their mission to discover the truth, with surprising findings!
This is a wonderful story that has the ability to capture a child’s heart and imagination whilst teaching them valuable lessons about trust and friendship whilst reassuring that bullies never win through. It has been written with much love and attention with excellent illustrations that bring out the sheer joy of the story.

If you have younger children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews I would heartily recommend this book, it is witty, lovely  and magical.

The Doll Factory

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth MacNeal

I had read many excellent reviews of The Doll Factory that I had no option but to read it for myself and make my own judgement.

From the gorgeous cover to the very last word this book had me hooked. It has an underlying sense of  unease all the way through it which MacNeal weaves like a thread of silk. You know something unpleasant is going to happen but you just can’t out your finger on what it might be.

The story opens with Silas, a thoroughly unsavoury taxidermist who collects the carcasses of dead animals which he then refreshes and brings new life too. Silas is a desperate person on many levels. We learn of his previous life in Stoke and his unrequited love affair with Flick which has only deepened his strange need to be accepted and recognised both for his work, which in his eyes is earth shatteringly good, and by society. Unfortunately for Iris, his obsessive nature quickly turns towards her.

Iris and her twin sister Rose work for the laudanum fuelled Mrs Salter at her Doll Emporium. Both sisters have physical ailments, Iris has a twisted clavicle that was caused at birth and Rose has facial scarring following an illness. You can sense the unease between the sisters, Iris feels stifled at the Emporium, whilst Rose nestles a deep rooted anger towards Iris blaming her for her disfigurement.

When Iris meets artist Louis she seizes the opportunity to become his muse, in exchange for painting lessons. The very thought of an unmarried women taking this path was shocking to victorian society and Iris knew that by doing so she would be ostracising herself from her family and abandoning her sister to cope alone. But MacNeal makes Iris a strong and spirited young woman who is not scared to challenge society. The relationship between pupil and teacher quickly turns to love, but it is an honest love that vindicates Iris for the decisions she has made.

Then we have Albie, a loveable street urchin who provides Silas with his specimens for a few bob a time. He lives with his sister in unpleasant surroundings but he would do anything to protect her, even if it means taking a beating or placing others at risk. Albie just wants to belong but in a different way to Silas. Albie wants to be loved and he has plenty of love to give in return. He is the linking character that connects Silas to Iris and Rose to Louis.

There is so much more going on in this book than I can mention here but all in all this is a story that sucks you in and drags you deeper and deeper  in to the formidable London that MacNeal has deftly created.

It is a compelling story set against the back drop of The Great Exhibition. It questions women’s role in society and puts the spotlight on love, art and family.

I would recommend this book to anyone, for a debut novel it is nothing short of genius.