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'The Glass House' by Sophie Cook is a book I picked up from my local library. I was initially drawn in by an intriguing front cover - the back of a female, staring out to a lake with an empty boat in view.
The front cover also quotes the Glasgow Herald: 'An exceptional first novel. Cooke is a writer with a great deal of power'. I am always looking for quotes and compliments on the front and back cover of books as it usually a good indicator of how well liked the book is by the general population. The back is also covered with a number of quotes which state the excellence of this novel.
Sophie Cooke was awarded the New Writer's Bursary by the Scottish Arts Council and was the runner up for the MacAllan prize for some of her short stories. I was therefore quite looking forward to reading the Glass House as there was much to be found regarding not only this novel but also her previous works.
The Glass House is a story about Vanessa, who is only 14 at the start of the book. By the end she is some 3 or 4 years older and the book revolves around her life shortly after she is expelled from boarding school and we are told a rather interesting story about the delicate relationship Vanessa has with her mother, the romantic relationship she forms with Alan, and her relationship with her two sisters who are quite different to her.
The story is definitely an emotional one. This is mainly because Vanessa has a very complicated relationship with her mother. She loves her mother deeply and this is consistently obvious throughout the book. It is also obvious that all is not right. At times in fact it was sometimes difficult to read descriptions of the interactions between mother and daughter. The reason for the story being called The Glass House is to illustrate that Vanessa's life is a fragile one, and could so easily be shattered - just like glass.
Vanessa's relationship with Alan was nice to read at the start. He seems like a nice guy right from the beginning, and I felt myself wanting them to be happy together.
Vanessa however is not a character I grew to love. I felt some sympathy for her because she clearly had issues at home - but I thought she was quite irrational at times. It was inevitable that she and Alan would not have a smooth and simple relationship, but the way she handled it made me resent her quite a bit. I suppose in a roundabout way that is a compliment to the author, because even if I didn't like Vanessa very much, her character was believable.
I enjoyed The Glass House a fair amount. It is not one of the best books I have read of late, but it was an interesting read, and one that I did look forward to curling up to at the end of the evening.
The end of The Glass House was a very strange experience to read. Not quite a shocker, more of an expected, yet unwanted and uncomfortable end to a book about strange and familial relationships.
I think if you occasionally enjoy a deep, yet strange (and at times uncomfortable) read every now and again you should give The Glass House a go.
Buy new: £6.29, Used: £0.01 (Amazon prices August 2009)
Other books by Sophie Cooke: Under the Mountain
Thanks for reading.