The House of Velvet and Glass is quite possibly the best book I’ve read in 2012 (I also loved The Orphan Master’s Son, but actually read it in December 2011, even though it was published this year!). I’ve recommended The House of Velvet and Glass to others, and they enjoyed it just as much. Katherine Howe will go onto my list of authors whose books are eagerly anticipated!
The House of Velvet and Glass is set in Boston in 1915, not too long after the sinking of the Titantic, which has had a profound impact on the heroine of the novel. Seeking solace after the deaths of her mother and sister on the fated ocean liner, Sybil Allston seeks answers from a psychic medium who gives her a crystal ball. Desperately unhappy living the life of an old-maid with her father, Sibyl’s world is quite suddenly changed when her brother is kicked out of Harvard because of conduct unbecoming a young man of his ilk. Enter psychology professor Benton Derby, a former beau of Sybil’s who chose to marry another. With her crystal ball, Sybil visits the opium dens of Boston’s Chinatown, reminiscent of her father’s own visits to the same in nineteenth century Shanghai. What befalls Sybil after her visits to Chinatown, is where the story takes off!
As I read this book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a book I read earlier this year, The Technologists, by Matthew Pearl. The House of Velvet and Glass has some real similarities and if you enjoyed The Technologists, Stephanie Pintoff’s work, or Caleb Carr’s books, then read this one. You will not be disappointed!
Book Details: Published by Voice (April 10, 2012), 432 pages, ISBN: 1401340911.