The Glass Room, by Simon Mawer

GlassRoomThe hero of this rich, multi-layered novel is the Landauer House, a stunning modernist structure commissioned by a Czech couple in the late 20s. Viktor is Jewish and Liesel is not, and their new home becomes the focus of their optimism and faith in the future. Of course it doesn’t work out as planned, as their marriage is strained by infidelity and Czechoslovakia is torn apart by war. Viktor and Leisel escape to America and the Landauer House is passed from Czech to Nazi to Soviet ownership, with its inhabitants all coming under the spell of the Glass Room, a brilliantly atmospheric space with floor to ceiling glass walls. The book is a penetrating study of emotional frailty and delusion, betrayal and the power of confession. The book was so enthralling I didn’t want it to end. Interestingly, the author used the Villa Tugendhat, a modernist masterpiece designed by Mies van der Rohe in the 20s near Prague, as the basis of his fiction.

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