Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure - these are things that happen in the Glass Room.
High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of WW2 gather, and eventually the family must flee, accompanied by Viktor's lover and her child.
But the house's story is far from over, and as it passes from hand to hand, from Czech to Russian, both the best and the worst of the history of Eastern Europe becomes somehow embodied and perhaps emboldened within the beautiful and austere surfaces and planes so carefully designed, until events become full-circle.The book that shone new light on our times:
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009, The Glass Room
is being reissued with a new cover alongside other classic titles from the Abacus list in our 40th Anniversary year.Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He has lived with his wife in Italy for more than 20 years, and he teaches at the English School in Rome.
On honeymoon in Venice in 1928, Viktor and Liesel Landauer face a new world when they meet brilliant architect Rainer von Abt. Soon, on a hillside near a provincial Czech town, the Landauer house with its celebrated Glass Room will become a modernist masterpiece of travertine floors and onyx walls, filled with light and optimism. But as Viktor is Jewish, when Nazi troops arrive the family must flee.
The house slips from hand to hand, Nazi to Soviet and finally to the Czechoslovak state. It becomes a laboratory, a shelter from the storm of war, and a place where the broken and the ruined find some kind of comfort until, with the collapse of Communism, the Landauers can finally return to where their story began.
'Mawer creates a passionately detailed portrait of individuals struggling to snatch order and happiness from frightening, irrational times . . . truly enjoyable to read' Rachel Aspden, Sunday Telegraph
'Exciting, profoundly affecting and altogether wonderful' Daily MailThe Glass Room
has sold 70,000 copies to date (TCM).With a new introduction by the author for this Abacus 40th anniversary edition.Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009.Reissued to celebrate Abacus's 40 year history of publishing influential, unique and trail-blazing books that have shaped the reading landscapeThe Glass Room - the book that looked at the 20th century anew