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S usan Fletcher writes well researched and intricate fiction set in beautifully observed landscapes. House of Glass offers readers many of the pleasures of her earlier work. In , a young woman called Clara Waterfield takes a summer job setting up the glasshouse in the garden of a Cotswolds country house. She has learnt about exotic plants from a gardener in the Palm House at Kew Gardens, where she sought comfort after the death of her mother. Clara was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, brittle bone disease, which has left her very small, permanently limping and physically distorted by poorly healed fractures.

She spent most of her childhood in padded rooms, taught only by her mother and never allowed to leave the house in case she injured herself. Since there were no visitors, Clara also lacks all experience of social interaction and is direct to the point of rudeness. In due course, there are footsteps in the night, scratchings at bedroom doors, screams and crashes in the early hours.

Clara, adamantly atheist and empiricist, questions the servants about the family who owned and lived in the house for generations, learning only that there are stories and resentments no one will reveal. Meanwhile, her employer is rarely at home and hides on the forbidden first floor during occasional visits, eventually summoning an investigator from the Society of Psychical Research when the supernatural activity becomes intolerable.

House of Glass is partly a cheerful romp, winking at the reader over the country house gothic motifs. Don't get me wrong, the author has the talent to create a dark and unsettling story, but there were too many little annoyances that really had an impact on the way it held together. Shadowbrook, the setting for the story, is beautifully described and vividly imagined, and the air of mystery that surrounds the property was intriguing.

The balance between Clara's medical condition, causing her to have brittle bones, and her strong, fearless personality was expertly done, and I appreciated that she had some fight left in her despite her condition. Many thanks to Virago for an ARC. I was not required to post a review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Nov 04, Joseph rated it it was amazing Shelves: contemporary-fiction , netgalley , gothic-and-supernatural , coming-of-age , history-and-historical-fiction.

A house is meant to be a place of safety and intimacy. The haunted house is a powerful symbol of horror precisely because it shows us a haven of domesticity upturned by an intruder, and a supernatural one at that. It is hardly surprising that from being just one of many Gothic tropes, the haunted house eventually became the basis of a rich supernatural sub-genre. House of Glass is a historical novel within this tradition. It is set just before the outbreak of the First World War and features a s A house is meant to be a place of safety and intimacy.

It is set just before the outbreak of the First World War and features a sprawling mansion — Shadowbrook — marked by dark, old rumours about its previous owners, the evil and hated Pettigrew family. The last Pettigrew to inhabit Shadowbrook was the sensual, decadent and possibly mad Veronique - her ghost still walks its corridors and the pages of this book.

So far, so familiar. Indeed, this novel shares many elements with other books within the sub- genre. What makes House of Glass particularly original is its protagonist and narrator, Clara Waterfield. As a result, Clara lives a secluded London childhood, fiercely protected by her parents. The premature death of her mother thrusts Clara into adulthood.

Notwithstanding her syndrome, her walking cane and ungainly gait, Clara ventures out into the world. This earns her the respect, friendship and support of Forbes, the foreman of the glasshouses. It also leads to an unexpected invitation. It is here that the ghost story proper begins. For Clara finds herself surrounded by mystery and secrets, by things that go bump in the night and malevolent attacks by an unseen visitor.

The housekeeper and maids cower in fear of the ghost of Veronique Pettigrew, a woman seemingly so evil that a mere mention of her name is enough to unleash poltergeist activity. Clara is sceptical but her rationalist approach is put under severe test. That summer will mark her coming to age, as she questions long-held certainties and beliefs.

At one level, House of Glass is enjoyable as a good old piece of storytelling. But there is so much more to it. What struck me at first is the blend of realism and the supernatural. Shadowbrook and its gardens are inspired by the real-life Hidcote Manor Gardens a National Trust property in Gloucestershire and they are lovingly and minutely described. At the same time, Fletcher uses small details closed, dust-filled rooms; peeling paint; a blood-stained billiard table to evoke an atmosphere of fear and dread.

The scene has already been set for the nocturnal visitations which considerably ratchet up the tension. The novel also manages to take an established form and inject it with a strong dose of feminism. This leads to another theme which is central to the novel, namely that of truth and falsehood, and how accounts can be manipulated to propagate the worldview favoured by their narrator.

My only reservation when reading the novel was that there are a number of narrative gear-changes late in the book. In the final chapters then, there is yet another shift, as the work ends with a meditation on war. For this is also a story about the passing of an era, and what are ghosts if not remnants, in one way or another, of a half-remembered past? Jan 05, Travel. A great story that I have never heard or read quite like a story that the author wrote. Amazing book that starts in the 90' century. I have always craving to read a story that is fresh and an original book.

I give the book 4. Something that I have had never read and the book did not disappoint me at all. Starting from the sample that I read which satisfied me from the start to the instagram when I saw it in others feed and I fel A great story that I have never heard or read quite like a story that the author wrote.

Starting from the sample that I read which satisfied me from the start to the instagram when I saw it in others feed and I fell from the absolute amazing cover. I want to thank the publishers who provided me with a copy for an honest review. The book written by the amazing talented Susan Fletcher the style she chose to write a book to this serious story about ghost stories what I'd say a great thriller with perfect timing published and told story. The author explores a universe that is the exact same as ours connections between souls from the past.

The sample of the book: June and a young woman - Clara Waterfield - is summoned to a large stone house in Gloucestershire. Although this is set during the summer in the days leading up to the outbreak of World War I , this is one of those books that is definitely well suited to winter reading by lamplight. A large, decaying mansion, rumoured to be haunted, in which picked flowers die within hours. Clara Waterfield is a marvellous heroine - fragile due to her brittle bone disease but still rooted in soil, plants, the outdoors. I enjoyed the first half particularly.

Beautiful writing. Review to follow shortly on For Although this is set during the summer in the days leading up to the outbreak of World War I , this is one of those books that is definitely well suited to winter reading by lamplight. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights. View 1 comment. In this respect, and many others, it is a book of opposites; of truth versus lies, logic versus faith, and reality versus the supernatural.

The story follows Clara, a young woman who spent her childhood confined to the safety of home. Suffering from a rare brittle bone condition, she is at constant threat of injury. Grieving the loss of her feminist mother, however, she jumps at the chance to finally fly the nest. Passionate about botany, she receives an invitation to establish a new glasshouse at Shadowbrook, a remote country manor. When she arrives, she is greeted by an owner conspicuous by absence, and residents terrified of a supposed haunting.

Clara soon sets her practical mind to solving the mysteries of Shadowbrook. Clara herself is a fabulous heroine. Her sheltered childhood spent in solitude, during which time she relied on the company of books, has instilled in her a voracious thirst for knowledge about people, and the world around her. This, coupled with her lack of social training, and her stubborn resilience against those who would dismiss her based on gender or disability, makes her forthright, headstrong, and proactive. The first half of the novel is pretty much everything I look for in an ideal read.

It has a rich, vivid setting, complete with all the gothic hallmarks. The dark, brooding air of mystery swells, as do the number of delightfully ghostly and atmospheric moments. The cast of supporting characters are well established, and equally intriguing in their own ways. In the second half, the dynamic shifts somewhat, but I was no less compelled. At large, this is a book about lives ruled and destroyed by the toxicity of hearsay, and the manipulative power that men held over women.

For the last 50 pages or so, there is a further shift in tone and focus that I can imagine will put it at odds with the rest of the story for some people. However, this section was still beautiful in its own way, helping to capture a very specific moment in time, when society was in a state of flux.

If the coming of war interrupts the flow and significance of prior events in the novel, this is hugely reflective of the effect war has in real life, throwing a new perspective on everything. Plus, by this point, I was so invested in the characters and the setting that I was just glad to be spending a little more time with them.

Read an Extract | House of Glass by Susan Fletcher - Virago

House of Glass was exactly what I needed right now. It completely swept me up, and I loved every moment I spent in the grips of its pages. Nov 04, Melanie Mel's Bookland Adventures rated it it was ok.

I had such high hopes for this one. It does some things well. All over the place. It's and England is on the cusp of war. Clara is a young woman with what we now call brittle bones disease who takes a job at Kew Gardens whilst grieving for her mother. She's sent to the countryside to stock the glasshouse of a mysterious estate owner where she encounters a staff terrified by the ghost of a former owner. This was a wonderful piece of historical fiction with a slight supernatural undertone. View 2 comments.

This had the potential to be a 5 star read for me but as you can tell from my 3 star rating, it didn't live up to the admittedly high expectations I had going in. There were some things it did very well, such as envoking a deliciously creepy gothic atmosphere alongside some reasonably well-drawn characters, but my main problem with it was that it was far too slow in terms of its pacing.

I normally don't mind a slower pace, particularly if there are some really intriguing characters to help hold your attention, but this was just too slow and although the characters were fleshed out and interesting enough in their own ways, I wouldn't say any of them particularly stood out or made up for the times when very little was happening in terms of plot momentum. I seriously considered abandoning this several times as it was such a slog to get through. However, I had this feeling in my gut that it would make up for it somewhat in the end and it was this feeling that prompted me to continue, despite my reservations.

I'm glad I did because the last third of the book did see a marked increase in pace and it was then that the plot finally kicked into gear. At this point I struggled to put it down and I would have certainly rated this book higher if all of it had been as engaging as the final third was. All in all, not a bad book but certainly not a great one either. Nov 25, Kelly rated it it was amazing. Oh my goodness what a book. This is absolutely exquisite; so lyrical and vivid and such an amazing protagonist. I don't want to say too much as I don't want to spoil any of the experience but I will say if you enjoy beautiful writing and intense character connections, this is an absolute must!

Susan Fletcher is an author whose work I have always very much enjoyed. My first encounter with one of her novels was in the glorious Harper Perennial edition of Eve Gree , quite some time ago. I have since read almost all of her other work, and when I saw that she had a new novel - House of Glass - coming out in , I borrowed it from the library just as soon as I could. The house is named, perhaps appropriately given the Gothic atmosphere, Shadowbrook. When Clara arrives, the owner, Mr Fox, is absent, and she is soon informed that he rarely spends any time in the house. By this, I mean my bones - the part on which the rest of me is stretched, stitched into place… My skeleton is frail.

I creak with any transference of weight. In my childhood, I fractured so frequently - with small gestures, with the simple act of looking up - that doctors winced and shook their heads. She is imperfect, they said. Clara thus spends the majority of her childhood reading, largely in the library of the house, which her parents converted from their old dining room for her benefit. Clara was drawn to Kew Gardens quite by chance following the death of her mother, something which she was entirely unprepared for, despite the illness which ensued.

She is grieving and desperate, and walking is the only thing which helps to take some of the pain away. She learns, in her own way, to navigate her own city, learning to board omnibuses which take her to distant parts of London. This was a name I knew. For here, there were famous gardens, with rhododendron walks and glasshouses and pergolas. England, too, was gone. For the Palm House at Kew contained canopies and ferns and damp wooden benches; palm leaves brushed my hair as I passed… Now I wanted to be nowhere else. Here was a new beginning. Clematis grew on its walls. Its courtyard was bordered with dark, leafy shrubs in which I could hear movement - nesting birds, or the scurrying of mice.

Two storeys to it, no more.

In the House of Fletcher

A small right-angled wing. The man who picks Clara up from the station, for instance, tells her not to worry about any noises which she might hear in the night, as old houses were prone to movement. It was an unsettling notion. I chastised myself for it - it was foolishness - yet I also looked down the lines of hedges. On the croquet lawn, I turned in a slow, complete circle to see it all. It had hung above the kitchen table; it had circled us… A thin, inconsequential, fictitious word.

It had no place in diagrams. My experience with her newest book was much the same. I very much admired the way in which she had not made Clara into a martyr, following the emotional and physical pain which she had to struggle with daily. Rather, Clara was realistic; she had tempers, and spoke her mind quite wonderfully, particularly in those situations where she was challenged by other characters. She felt entirely three-dimensional, holding within herself a myriad of worries and hopes, and a believable backstory.

Clara felt like a progressive, modern woman; she does not go to church, or believe in God, and does not allow her voice to be silenced by anyone. She is opinionated and stubborn, and not at all a likeable character, but I found her quite fascinating. Of velvet and goose down, embroidered pillows, Persian rugs and silk. There was, too, a globe. A rocking horse that I could touch but not ride. Tales of how the river had looked at twilight. How the carol singers sang, despite the rain. The green of a tiny jungle frog.

Whilst there is far less commentary on the outbreak of the First World War than I was expecting, I found that the period was very well evoked, and the novel itself was both immersive and atmospheric. At no point, however, was I entirely captivated by the story, and despite the real strengths in character building, I felt as though the denouement of the novel was a little disappointing, and something of an anticlimax, and the ending was drawn out.

The story does come together, but I did not find the twists to be overly clever or original. I also found the pace a little awkward in places, and the tension which Fletcher had striven to create was not as heightened, and therefore not as successful, as it could have been. Dec 15, Helen Carolan rated it it was amazing. Another terrific Gothic read. Clara suffers from brittle bone disease and has spent much of her early life cocooned indoors. When her beloved mum dies Clara starts to question her own identity and wanders the streets of London trying to banish her grief.

This leads her to Kew gardens where she learns about exotic plants.

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This in turn leads to a commission at Shadowbrook in Gloucestershire. The owner is a mysterious recluse and the locals have nothing but bad to say about previous owners the Pett Another terrific Gothic read. The owner is a mysterious recluse and the locals have nothing but bad to say about previous owners the Pettigrews. The house seems to be haunted and Clara decides to investigate. When she does she makes an astonishing discovery about her own past.

Loved this one. Oct 30, Lynn Williams rated it it was amazing. I am on a winning streak with my gothic reads these past few weeks and here is yet another little beauty to add to your wishlists. Beautifully written and powerfully evocative it contains all the elements that woven together make an engrossing gothic story.

The thing I love about this book is the voice. Clara is a wonderful narrator and I was quite hooked to the page as she recounted her early years. A simple fall can result in serious damage and Clara spends her youth spent largely recuperating, mainly in the company of her mother and in a house that is all but wrapped in cotton wool to prevent, as far as possible, further injuries.

As she grows older her condition stabilises a little but of course by that time, and with so many broken bones already in her past Clara finds it difficult to walk without the aid of a stick. On top of this her appearance is almost ethereal. With a diminutive frame, strangely entrancing eyes and white blond hair she certainly catches attention although quite often of the negative variety.

And, finally, with a lack of social encounters in her past she has a certain way of interacting with others that is brutally frank and often borders on abrupt. Here we have a female character, set in a period where societal restrictions would prevent her having any freedom, enjoying a lifestyle that is totally unexpected.

I want more of this. The story moves forward to approximately She takes to visiting Kew Gardens, fascinated by the plants and keen to learn. Shadowbrook House is appropriately named. Noises that whisper of footsteps treading along creaking floorboards, or perhaps just noises of an old house settling in to sleep at night. It has a forbidden attic, a reclusive owner and plenty of dark secrets just waiting to be unveiled. Clara is an intelligent and practical woman. She has a scientific mind and so as such refuses to believe in ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

Obviously, her nature is tempered by her easily broken bones. Added to a great protagonist and an eerie tale is of course the writing. Susan Fletcher is a wonderful writer. She has an almost magical way with words that simply transports you into whatever vision she is currently creating. In terms of criticisms.

I have nothing. I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion. Jan 09, pennyg rated it it was amazing. It starts as a ghost story but is so much more. It's tone is a bit different from her other books but has the same beautiful writing, same uncanny ability to depict emotion that is spot on and a sense of place that is almost as vital as the characters.

The story is about a strong willed but physically fragile young woman discovering who she is and what she believes, set in during the suffragette movement and right before the war, braving the world on her own for the first time at a grand e It starts as a ghost story but is so much more. The story is about a strong willed but physically fragile young woman discovering who she is and what she believes, set in during the suffragette movement and right before the war, braving the world on her own for the first time at a grand estate with beautiful gardens and a glass house filled with exotic plants and a lot of mystery.

Loved it. May 22, Linda Kelly rated it it was amazing. Just beautiful. Such gorgeous, lyrical pose from Susan Fletcher. One of my favourites this year so far. Bale, and two frightened maids from the village, Harriet and Maud , and eventually our narrator experiences some uncanny goings-on for themselves. Intellectually frustrated by the apparent impossibility of the supernatural, our narrator seeks to uncover the truth, while simultaneously revealing themselves to the reader as being an ever more untrustworthy and subjective observer.

Roughly, that is what happens in the first half of House of Glass, but Susan Fletcher innovates by making Clara not less believable, but more so. Learning to shed her preconceptions about rationality and the nature of knowledge, she also learns to shed idealized images of other people: too frail throughout childhood and adolescence to have a normal social life, she is forced to meet people at Shadowbrook who are — like all real people — contradictory, confusing, and illogical in their actions.

To say too much more would be to spoil the clever way in which Fletcher undermines the tropes of the Gothic romance genre: the crazed, over-sexed woman Bertha in Jane Eyre, Cathy in Wuthering Heights , the deceptive housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, Mrs.

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Fairfax , the brooding romantic hero whose role, in House of Glass, is spread over several male characters and in one instance combined with the trope of the taciturn-but-sexy man of the soil. Fletcher makes us consider the difference between real life and fiction. This post was a stop on the House of Glass blog tour. Thanks to Virago for the review copy!


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Nov 22, Angela Smith rated it liked it Shelves: general-fiction , historical , ww1 , mystery. Clara Waterfield has spent most of her life cushioned from life's knocks as she has a rare bone disorder which causes them to break like twigs as she grows up some strength is afforded her and she manages to get about with a cane.

Her mother dies and Clara wants a bit of independence from her stepfather and the house she has been closeted in. One of her strengths is that she knows plants. A gardener at Kew who she befriends helps her to get a temporary position at a country house whose owner wan Clara Waterfield has spent most of her life cushioned from life's knocks as she has a rare bone disorder which causes them to break like twigs as she grows up some strength is afforded her and she manages to get about with a cane.

A gardener at Kew who she befriends helps her to get a temporary position at a country house whose owner wants a glass house restoring with new plants. Shadowbrook is the house and is as much an enigma as the elusive owner Mr Fox. Clara is a practical and outspoken young woman and talks in a way that not all the staff and villagers approve of.

However, strange things are happening at Shadowbrook which are causing Clara to change her beliefs in a lot of things. The book certainly has a gothic and mysterious edge to it as Clara delves into the history of the house and its past inhabitants and the writing is solid and well written, but sometimes it feels like the story is a little sluggish but overall I liked it. I can say that the premise of this novel is high. Some reviewers said that it was an attempt to remake Rebecca. Sure there's a resemblance but this story was drafted in a different way.

I also had a moment of nervousness with all that occurred. For me the ending was unpredictable.