Monday, February 13, 2017

The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning

I came across this selection on Amazon. I had seen so many reviews that it intrigued me. I had never read anything from this German author. The cover caught my attention as did the description of this novel. 

It's a part of a trilogy. I am getting ready to open up book 2, The American Lady. I cannot wait to begin. I tell you this book marveled me. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. What a journey into another time and place. 

We travel to Germany where this novel is set. The year is 1890 and we find ourselves in Lauscha, Germany. The author did a fantastic job at the perfect description of not only the area, but circumstance, and heart of the characters. Her writing style flows so easily that the pages almost turn themselves. 

The characters are easy to love. Three sisters who are now wondering, after their father had passed from this earth,  how they will now provide for themselves. It isn't going to be easy, but these sisters show us how to prevail over challenges that would keep some from taking a step forward for fear of failure. 

These sisters, Johanna, Ruth, and Marie, are close-knit. I love that they are all so different. Throughout this novel we see them grow, become stronger, become more sure of themselves in this world where men are in charge. 

They have tender hearts, and walk with grace. These sisters were raised with values and to treasure themselves, never allowing another to take advantage of them.

This novel is about family, love, sisterhood, trust, and prevailing against the circumstance of life. Glassblowing in this time was only accomplished by men. It was unspeakable for women to design such beauty. 

Each of these girls journey into finding themselves as trial seems to come from every corner, each facing something different, but all overcoming with a strength and a bond that comes from such a loving family. 

Now, for me I usually only review Christian novels, but there was something about this one that drew me in and I had to see what this writer and her work was all about. For my Christian readers this may not be the book for you. This is why. On two different occasions there are sex scenes. At first I struggle with these. I wondered what the book would have been without them and just how was I going to write a review to a mostly Christian audience about a book that contained sex. 

Well, I never share spoilers. I just really dislike when people do that, but this time I just cannot go around it. Could the novel been written without the sex scenes and prevailed as a great novel? Of course it could have. The writer could have shared other challenges these women faced. But these are also times where men held a hand over women and these women were expected to keep quiet about it. 

One sex scene is when one of the characters, Ruth, is falling deeply for a young man. This is the first man she has really known. In this scene he is extremely rough, no tenderness, and nothing as she thought her first time would be. Later we see this character being abused by her husband. 

The next is when her sister, Johanna,  is raped by the shop owner where they are all employed. Of course there isn't going to be anything gentle about this scene. Now, there is one more sex scene for Ruth. She has finally found love. She finds the tenderness of a man, his heart, and finds real value. She is a gem to this man and he truly cares for her. This scene is tender and intimate as it should be when there is love. 

For me, I can look at these scenes and take away the importance to the character, Ruth, and to her growth. It shows how many of us young women meet a young man and think that this is reality. But Ruth shows women they do not have to remain in a relationship where they are being abused. This was something very difficult to walk away from during this time in history. 

For these characters to overcome issues that women face is of value to this story that will continue on in this trilogy. As for Johanna, being raped, she feels she is now unworthy of love. No one would want to have her. But this isn't what we uncover in the novel. We too see her find unconditional love. 

So, I wasn't a fan of these very small sex scenes, but I do understand why the writer added them. I still must give this novel a five star because the story weaves such a connection between the reader and the characters. I love seeing characters overcome. Before they overcome they must face the struggle head on and that is exactly what these characters did. 

I love the idea of glassblowing. The beauty cannot be found until the glass undergoes change. Another great illustration of beauty from ash. 

Happy ReadingšŸ“˜

This novel was a gift from Amazon Publishing for sharing my review with you. 

Petra Durst-Benning lives near Stuttgart, Germany, with her husband, Bertram, and their dog, Eric. Before writing her first novel she worked as an import/export translator and edited a magazine for dog owners. All this changed with the publication of The Silver Thistle, which was set against the background of the peasant uprising in Germany in 1514. Her next dozen books take place in times ranging from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century, and are set in Germany, France, Russia, and America. They bring tales of historical times, love and family, happiness, and hardship to an ever-growing readership. The Glassblower is the first part of a trilogy. 

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