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Reviews of Glass Harmonica, the (2000)

Review by spiphany (2004-11-17)
This started off well, but faltered in the last third or so of the book, and the parallel stories never really came together. The novel is perhaps a bit too ambitious; the historical setting is well-conceived, but the futuristic setting is much less well-developed, and this is where the real action of the story takes place. Eilish, who, it becomes clear, is ill from the constant exposure to the lead in the glass used to make the Armonica, fades out without her life being affected in any way by her contact with the future Erin. The two never communicate in any direct way, and the insight that Erin gains from Eilish about healing power of the music of the glass harmonica occurs almost by happenstance more than plan, and the reader has by this time seen the point being made long before.
However, this is at the very least an original, genre-crossing novel, combining elements of science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and romance. (Fans of Anne McCaffrey, especially her Crystal Singer books, would likely enjoy this.) Probably the most successful element is the glass harmonica, which Marley uses to tie the elements of the story together. This is a real instrument with a fascinating history which is brought to life in the book.

Review by tollbaby (2004-11-11)
This book surprised me. I wasn't sure what to expect when it was given to me, but I was pleasantly surprised at how firmly it kept me in its grasp. There were bits of it where I just wanted them to get on with it and tell us what happened, but it moved along at a fairly good clip.

The historical aspects of the story aren't as richly described as I'm used to with the historical romance genre, but this story isn't really a romance. There are romantic aspects to it, of course, with Erin and Gene coming together as a couple, but that's actually a very small component of the story.

The focus on the Glass Harmonica (or the Armonica, as it's ascribed to Benjamin Franklin as saying) is refreshing. I'd never heard of this instrument, I'm not sure if Louise Marley made it up for the story, but it's a fascinating subject, and the scenes involving Franklin and his contemporaries are very indicative of the period, I think.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, even though it made me very sad at times. I really got into it, and I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It contains quite a bit more substance than most of the fluff I've read recently, but it's a good read. I must get my hands on more of Marley's work now.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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