“ Genre: Fiction / Author: Rachel Hore / Paperback / 400 Pages / Book is published 2009-04-06 by Pocket Books „
Fran is a successful tuba player who travels around the world in orchestras when suddenly she is called back to London as her estranged father has suffered a stroke. On returning, she finds him gravely ill and unresponsive and so sets about trying to sort out his stained glass business along with her father's assistant and expert craftsmen Zac.
One of the first jobs she is called to do is to help with the planned restoration of a nearby church's stained glass window which has been broken. Trying to physically piece the window back together requires her to more metaphorically put together the history of the window in the first place so that they can recreate it accurately. In the depths of the generations-old shop, she finds some old documents including the memoirs of a young woman called Laura Brownlow who lived in the area and who is somehow connected with the history of this window.
As she works through her own research and Laura's memoirs she finds herself undergoing quite an eventful time in her personal life, through reacquaintance with old friends, an unexpected romance and her involvement with a local young woman who is homed in the local homeless shelter but shows a fascination with the shop.
The book switches between the two women/periods of times but this is managed well, not being confusing and rightly choosing to focus on Fran's story as being the most engaging as she travels through a traumatic time in her life.
I have previously read Hore's other books. They all share the same basic structure of parallels between the current life of somebody and a story from the past. And, like her other books this is perfectly fine and enjoyable, if somewhat overlong. However, I certainly enjoyed this one more than I remember enjoying her other two books and I zipped through this quite quickly despite it being 450 pages long.
The descriptions are very good, particularly when referring to the intracies of stained glass window maintenance. There are also enough revelations and surprises along the way to keep you interested and engaged. The characters themselves are well drawn and believable, especially Fran and there are elements of the book that are genuinely touching without being sentimental.
The two stories which are running alongside each other are well done and even the older story is quite convincing, as sometimes plot devices such as these can come across as quite twee in the wrong hands.
That said, if it is like Hore's other books then the exact details of this story will not remain long in the memory - other than being a good story well told.
Despite reading a previous book by this author and deciding not to read any more of her work, I found myself reading this.
The book is written about Mel, who is trying to put together a shattered Victorian glass window with an angel image on it. As she fixes it, she discovers a Victorian diary, filled with information about a love story. The man who designed the window, a pre Raphaelite artist, was madly in love with the Minister's daughter Laura. His feelings are beautifully expressed, and I found myself enjoying reading about the two.
The story also tells of Mel and her own dad. Hore describes how Mel returns to her fathers home and business so brilliantly that you feel sad with her, and even worse when she discovers that her father is in hospital, crippled by a stroke.
The story tells a wonderful journey of restoration, and also contains a lot of information about glass painting, which is carefully weaved into the story. However, the book does contain a lot of religion, which may be controversial, and the chapters set in the past are written in a very modern language which makes them very hard to imagine.
Unlike her other books, Hore has tried to cram a lot of action into this one, and it can sometimes happen slightly too fast. The ending reads to be rather rushed, too, and becomes see through quite early on in the book. That said, it really is an interesting read, even if only for the Victorian love story which is beautifully written.