Title and Author(s): Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass
Release Date: Apr 06, 2012
Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition
Source: Harris County Public Library
Reasons for Reading: Feel free to click onto this link TBRs – Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass. Unfortunately, I was reading this book when my Nook went on the fritz. It was a huge relief to me when I found the large print version of this novel at the library branch. Thus, I was able to quickly finish this book.
Summary: It’s 1915, three years after losing her mother and sister (Helen and Eulah) on that fateful voyage of the HMS Titanic, Sibyl Allston suffers in near silence as she runs the Boston household of her laconic, shipping magnate Lan Allston. She seeks solace in her late mother’s medium. When her brother, Harlan, gets kicked out of Harvard and his involvement with an odd woman seems the cause, old flame Professor Benton Derby reaches out to Sibyl. With Benton, Sibyl embarks on an odd journey of discovery of Boston’s Chinatown and its opium dens. Sibyl’s 1915 point of view is mingled with those of Helen and Eulah’s 1912 and Lannie’s 1867. I won’t say anymore about Lannie.
One Thing I Learned from reading Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass: I knew of the Widener Library at Harvard but I didn’t know the story behind it. For more info, visit History – Widener Library – Harvard College Library.
What I Liked: The characters were well conceived – particularly Sibyl, Eulah, and Lan. The settings appeared well-researched and recreated. Howe’s descriptive writing paints the picture without being gratuitous. I appreciated the integration of real-life people such as Harry Widener and Edwin Friend. By the end of the novel, I truly appreciated Lan’s love for and devotion to his family. Howe’s afterward was great and she made significant points in this section.
What I Disliked: Well, it wasn’t “Deliverance Dane.” The beginning didn’t pull me in as quickly as Howe’s first effort did. Once I put aside my “Deliverance Dane” measuring stick, I got more out of this book. Also, the presence of opium in this book made me extremely uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I DID like the resolution of the opium abuse. Lastly, I wanted to know more about Dovie, Harlan’s mysterious girlfriend.
You might also like:
- Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits
- Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
- Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune
- E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View