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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner

“The Girl in the Glass is possibly the most beautiful book I’ve ever read. Susan Meissner lifted her book to the level of poetry at the same time she drew me in so deeply to the story that I was lost in the world she created. The story comes in three threads that twist together into a stunning, compelling, enchanting whole. I absolutely loved it.”
—Mary Connealy, author of The Kincaid Brides series

Renaissance is a word with hope infused in every letter.
Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?
 
Girl in the Glass is hands down one of the best books I have read in awhile. It was not an action packed, fast moving book by any means. But the attraction of this novel lies in its slow moving flow that matches the beauty and the timeless pull of Florence, Italy. I had the opportunity to visit Florence, Italy over a year ago, and this novel both reminds me of its beauty and makes me yearn to spend a month or more exploring this city's exquisite depth. The plot of Girl in the Glass fits beautifully into the setting of Florence. It is rich, deep, and full of surprises. There are several moments in this book are completely unexpected and add to its enchantment. The narration of this book is beautifully intertwined between the perspective of Meg as she finally experiences Florence, the story of Nora, the Medici princess, and Sophia, the 'last Medici'. The connection and flow of this story is confusing at first, but it quickly adds to the beauty and complexity of the story. There is a final level of narration that is discovered at the end of the book, but I will leave that for you to discover yourself.
 
I loved the beauty and flow of the language used in the Girl in the Glass. It was varied, descriptive, and perfectly fit the world of Florence. Here are some examples:
"Florence, my father told me long ago, is like a dance. It is more than streets and buildings and a steady river; it's a presence you feel, a rhythm you fall in step with."
"Grief is a river like the Arno, the depths of its dark bed you cannot see. To swim in it is to tire in it and sink in it and be lost forever in it."
"Heaven's rules don't just ell us what to do and what not do. They tell us what God is like. People searching for God only need to look at what God says is important. I think love is important to Him. So there are rules about it. Not to make us feel bad about how far we fall short, but to show us how wonderful the real thing is."
Florence itself is also described exquisitely. I felt like I was back in Florence, and I also discovered other places, museums, statues, etc. that I want to return to Florence to see.

The characters in the Girl in the Glass were interesting as well. I really liked Meg, Lorenzo, and Sophia. They were all very different and added their own dimension to the story. They all experienced growth during the novel, and I was very pleased to see how their stories ended. I wish the epilogue that been longer, but I was given plenty for my imagination.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story, and I am seriously considering visiting Florence again because of the Girl in the Glass.

I received this novel for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review.

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