Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.
When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.
When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.08(h) x 0.95(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The sun is setting on my last day in Florence. Tomorrow I will marry the man my uncle has chosen for me and Florence will be at my back, perhaps forever. My soon-to-be husband will have no reason to come here after we marry, and my uncle will not expect to see me again. His responsibilities for me, such as they are, will be done.
My cousin Maria does not understand my melancholy at the prospect of leaving forever the place where my life began. “What has Florence ever brought you but heartache?” she has said more than once. And if I’ve any kindred souls in this world besides her, perhaps they would say she is right.
But within my heart so cruelly handled, there are unseen places that have been shaped by Florence’s beauty. Florence is a coin with two sides, a room with two doors, a river with two banks. Everything that wounded me happened here. And everything that brought me solace happened here too.
Maria brought me to Rome with her to see me out of Florence, out of the maelstrom of Medici woe that she believes Florence is to me. Maria does not know that Florence alone speaks condolence to me; I couldn’t wait to return. Only Florence, in all her vast majesty, assures me that as much as people can create ugliness, they can create splendor. It is all around me in Florence: the ache of loveliness, in every work forged by human hands that can kill as soundly as they heal.
And now it seems I must bid farewell to my very soul.
Maria is calling for me. The carriage is ready. My uncle would have us leave for the Villa dell’Ambrogiana before darkness falls. As I depart, Florence safeguards my childhood treasures, buried beneath the marble and within the frescoes and in the threads of the canvases. All my longings, whispered on dark nights and gray days, I press them now into the folds of my city, so that as my shadow falls away from Florence forevermore, I shall not be forgotten by her.
When I close my eyes and think of home, I always envision Florence—a place I’ve never been.
The red and cream hues, remembered from the paintings on my Italian grandmother’s walls, speak “home” to me as much as any address where I’ve ever lived. My grandmother is gone now, and her pictures and paintings have been scattered among my father’s family members. But with my eyes shut, I can picture the rosy cap of the cathedral dome, the toast-colored stucco, the lizard-green Arno River as it lazes down its course. I can hear the odd cadence of European emergency sirens, the zipping of Vespas down asymmetrical streets, and the acoustic darts of a language I don’t understand beyond simple endearments spoken by my nonna. I can smell the cappuccino—because she told me hers smelled just like it—the perfumed doorways of the fashion houses, the dense exhaust of too many cars. And I
can feel the cool, silken flesh of David’s marbled feet if I were allowed to stretch out my hand and touch them.
Even now, so many years later, I can see the canvases on my grandmother’s living room walls—the litho of Botticelli’s Primavera, the oil Nonna had done of a woman walking in the rain in a puddled piazza, the watercolor of rows of Italian cypresses and a young man on a bicycle. But the one of a young girl reaching toward a beckoning statue is the only one I still dream about. My great-great-grandfather painted it when Nonna was young, before she and her parents immigrated to America. My grandmother was the girl in the painting, and the statue stood in the Florentine background. A palette of russets and burgundy and ocher filled the rest of the painting with depth and elegance, with a hint of blossoms to come.
Nonna used to tell me I was the girl in the painting, just as she had been when she was a little girl, an impossibly wondrous thought that I clung to until well after my eleventh birthday. Nonna, as the young girl, whose back was to my great-great-grandfather as he painted, wears a rosypink gown that glistens in the sunlight playing behind her. I used to imagine the statue was speaking to the girl and that’s why her hand was extended—as if she were inviting my grandmother to dance, to join her world of joy where anything unexpected was possible. I loved that painting and thought of it often, long after my parents divorced, long after my mother and I moved to San Diego and the visits to Nonna’s dwindled. Nonna was going to take me to Florence when I graduated from high school to find the statue, but she died when I was twelve. I never saw that painting again after she died.
My father promised his mother, as she lay dying, that he would take me to Florence in her stead. I wasn’t there when he promised her this. My mother and I were in San Diego when we got the call two days after she died that Nonna had had a massive heart attack. But Dad told me of the promise when my passionate grief over Nonna’s death left him grappling for words to make me stop crying. Six years later, however, in the summer months following my high-school graduation, Dad had knee surgery. From then until now, the promised trip to Florence has been in a perpetual state of postponement. From time to time he’ll remark that we need to take that trip. He hasn’t forgotten, but it’s almost as if he’s waiting for something to happen—or change—before he can make good on that promise.
Eighteen years after Nonna’s death, I marvel that the mention of her birthplace still sounds like the name of a matronly soul, kind and sweet. Florence—a woman with ample arms, a soft voice, and silver wisps in her hair. I’ve been to London and Paris and to Aruba twice for publishing conferences. But the closest I’ve come to visiting Florence are the phone calls I make to one of my authors who happens to live there.
A phone call to Lorenzo always makes me feel decidedly homesick.
I awoke to early-April coastal fog, frothy white like a bridal veil, and my first thought after remembering I’d be Skyping with Lorenzo before nine, was that my ex-fiancé would marry that evening.
A blanket of mist coddled Bird Rock and the rest of the San Diego coast with a ghostlike embrace as I lay scrunched under the covers, wondering if Miles was feeling nervous or afraid. Was he thinking of me, even just a little? Would the unintended wound I gave him two years ago needle him as he got ready for the day? I hoped not. I didn’t want to ruin his wedding day twice.
Coffee drunk, cheese omelet eaten, I gave scant thought as to what to wear to work. I wouldn’t be rushing to Balboa Park for twilight nuptials. I chose a denim skirt, red-and-white-striped knit top, black flats. Chrome jewelry. Ponytail.
I was pouring a second cup of coffee into a travel mug when my cell phone rang. My mother’s ringtone. I fished the phone out of my purse and answered with a cheerful “Hello, Mom.”
“Meg. You don’t have to pretend. It’s me.”
“Good morning to you too.”
“You doing okay? Really?” In the background I could hear her pushing buttons on her microwave.
“But today is not just any old Friday.”
I replaced the carafe on the coffee maker and pressed the Off button. “I’m fine. I’m the one who broke up with Miles, remember?”
“Of course I remember. That doesn’t mean you enjoyed having to do it. Or that you are enjoying this. You and Miles dated for two years. He’s marrying someone else today.”
“But I’m happy for him.” I screwed the top on my travel mug.
“Yes, well, I didn’t call him to see how he’s doing today. I called you.”
“And I’m fine.”
“Well, if you’re sure.”
“I am. But thanks.”
I heard the sound of the microwave whirring to life.
“So, I was thinking if you’re free tonight, we could meet up at the Melting Pot for dinner.”
My mother loves fondue restaurants. No one touches your food while it’s cooking but you. No one touches it when it’s done cooking but you. “Why? Something up?” I grabbed my car keys and then knelt to unlatch the kitty door for Alex, my borrowed cat. He brushed past me, meowing his thanks, and disappeared through it into the tiny backyard of the cottage that I am caretaker for.
“I just want to have dinner with you. I… There’s…” But she didn’t continue.
I stood up. “There’s what?”
“Nothing. Can you come? Are you busy?”
Since breaking off my engagement with Miles, I’d given myself a year to heal—wounding someone could be just as painful as being wounded by someone—and then had spent the next twelve months slowly reentering the dating life. I’d gone out on a few dates, but I hadn’t met anyone I’d wanted to rush into a relationship with. My mother had applauded my caution. Elaine Pomeroy always applauds caution. “Better safe than sorry” would be tattooed on my mother’s forearm if she wasn’t convinced tattoo artists don’t properly clean their needles. She was all for me taking it slow. Gabe, the graphic designer at the same publishing house where I work, is the closest I have come to dating anyone exclusively. We’ve gone out a few times. The thing is, a dating relationship is always going somewhere. Even nowhere is a place. I didn’t want to mess up Gabe’s and my workplace friendship with a potential dating destination like nowhere. So I recently backed off—a sublimely cautionary move my mother applauded—and Gabe gallantly retreated. And I am not dating anyone else at the moment.
I had no plans for the evening of Miles’s wedding. “What time?” I asked.
“How about seven thirty? Unless you want to do it earlier. I was thinking we’d miss the worst of the evening traffic.”
“Seven thirty is fine.” I turned off the kitchen light and reached for my purse. “See you then.”
“Oh. And your father is probably going to call you today.”
My arm reaching for my purse paused midstretch. It wasn’t odd that my father might call. Our amicable relationship includes occasional phone calls and the even more occasional visit. But it seemed odd to me that he’d call today, out of the blue. Dad surely didn’t know Miles was getting married that night. He couldn’t have known. Unless my mother had called and told him. Nineteen years postdivorce my mother still calls my father to remind him of things she thinks he will forget, as if it still matters what he does and doesn’t do.
“I’m telling you I’m fine, Mom.”
“It’s not about Miles getting married. I’m sure your father couldn’t care less about that. I didn’t call him. He called me.”
“He lost your new cell phone number. All he has is your work number. So I gave it to him. I wasn’t going to without asking you first, but he said he needed it to talk to you about something. And he didn’t want to call you on your work phone.”
As my mother talked, I began to conjure possibilities as to what my father would think important for me to know that he couldn’t tell me at work. Maybe at long last he was setting a date for our trip to Florence?
“If he is coming down today and wants to see you, do what you must,” my mother continued. “But don’t bring him to the Melting Pot.” The tone in my mother’s voice was a mix of apprehension and distaste.
“I won’t bring him. And I doubt he’s coming down. He could tell me that at work.”
“There’ve always been a great many things he could have done and didn’t.”
Sunlight was peeking through the marine layer outside my kitchen window, reminding me that a full day at work awaited. I was due to talk with Lorenzo in less than fifteen minutes. It could take that long just to get from the cottage in Bird Rock to the office in downtown La Jolla, especially if all the good street parking was taken.
“Hey, Mom. I’ve got to run. I’m Skyping with one of my authors, and I don’t want to keep him waiting.”
“Call me if you’re going to be late tonight. And tell your father to give you a bit more notice next time.”
“I doubt he’s coming down. I’ll see you tonight.” I headed for the front door, travel mug in hand. “Okay?”
“All right. Oh. And it’s quite foggy this morning on the coast. Saw it on the morning news. Don’t rush out into it. If it’s too bad, just go in later.”
I hung up and stepped out into the lacy vapor.
Q&A with SUSAN MEISSNER
Author of The Girl in The Glass
(as well as A Sound Among the Trees and The Shape of Mercy)
It's a pleasure having award-winning novelist Susan Meissner here with us today to talk about her newest book from WaterBrook Press, The Girl in the Glass, a part-contemporary, part historical novel set in Florence, Italy
1. Susan, tell us where the idea for this story came from.
For our 25th wedding anniversary a few years ago my husband and I took a much-anticipated eight-day Mediterranean cruise. One of the ports of call on the Italy side was close enough to Florence to hop on a bus and spend the day there. When I stepped onto Florentine pavement I fell head over heels in love. There is something magical about Florence that I didn't see in Rome, or even Paris if you can believe that. The artistic genius that meets your eye no matter which direction you turn is unparalleled. The beauty created by mere mortals during the Italian Renaissance is jaw-dropping. It was the perfect place to bring a disillusioned present-day character who needs to re-invent her life. That's what Renaissance means: rebirth. I went back a couple years later with my mom, daughter, sisters and nieces and knew I just had to set a story there and somehow involve the infamous Medici family.
2. What is the story about, in a nutshell?
Meg Pomeroy is a disenchanted travel book editor unsure of her father's love, still smarting from a broken engagement, and whose normally cautious mother is suddenly dating a much younger man. Her perspective on everything that matters is skewed. She escapes to Florence, Italy, on a long-promised trip, believing her father will meet her there. True to form, he's a no-show, but the trip allows her to connect with Lorenzo DiSantis, a writer she's met only via Skype and e-mail, and Sofia Borelli, a tour guide and aspiring writer who claims she's one of the last Medici, and that a sixteenth-century Medici granddaughter, Nora Orsini, speaks to her through Florence's amazing statues and paintings. When Sophia, Meg, and Nora's stories intersect, their lives are indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn't just a word? What if that's what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn't what it has to be?
3. The Girl in the Glass refers to a painting that the heroine of your novel, Meg, loves. Describe the painting and what it stands for.
Because this story is set in Florence, against the backdrop of the most stunning art that can be seen today, I wanted there to be a current day painting that connected my main character, Meg, with this amazing city. The painting Meg loves features a little Florentine girl mimicking a statue whose marbled hand is extended toward her. The painting hung in her maternal grandmother's house; a place where Meg felt loved and safe. Meg hasn't seen the painting since she was a little girl. When her grandmother died, everything in the house was sold or parceled out to other family members. Meg knows the statue in the much-loved painting is real, that it is somewhere in Florence, and that it is likewise beckoning her to come. Since she doesn't know where the painting is, she is set on finding the statue itself. In a way, the lost painting represents Meg's perceived loss of her family when her parents divorced and everything stable in Meg's life turned upside down.
4. In its review of The Girl in The Glass, Publishers Weekly said that this book is like taking a trip to Florence. What kind of research is involved in creating that kind of experience? Why do you think readers love to take those kinds of journeys in a novel?
The best kind of research is that which lets me usher the reader right into the time and place I want to take them, without them feeling anything no motion sickness, if you will. So I need to know everything, not just facts and figures but even the subtle nuances of a time period. It means a lot of reading and note-taking. I usually end up collecting more data than I can possibly use, but I don't always know what I'll need until I am into the story, and the characters start talking and reacting and deciding. I think readers like the thrill of being somewhere they couldn't visit any other way than through the pages of a book. Novels let us experience the lives of other people without having to make any of their mistakes. And we can also share their joys. And their victories. And the lessons they learned in the crucible of life.
5. One important plot in The Girl in the Glass deals with Meg's disappointment in her parents' divorce and her father's behavior in the years following the divorce. What inspired this particular thematic exploration of disappointment with parental expectations?
My parents have been happily married for over fifty years so I had to research this aspect for the novel. I like to think of myself as a hungry observer; I tend to watch people, study them, to learn from them. I have seen a lot of people who grew up in homes where their parents had divorced and I've seen the effects of that severing. Some have never gotten over it. Childhood life-changers tend to stay with us. And the family, especially the parents, are the child's universe. When you upset that you upset quite a bit.
6. Your last few novels have had important historical components in the storytelling. Some of the history of the famous Medici family is included in the novel. What was the most fascinating thing about the Medicis and how do your reconcile their infamous behavior with their unquestionable contribution to the world of art?
The Medici family both appalls and fascinates me. On the whole they were shrewd, conniving, opportunistic, unfaithful, vengeful, murdering rulers, who of all things, loved art and beauty. Michelangelo, DaVinci, Donatello, and so many other Italian Renaissance artists, wouldn't have had patrons if it weren't for the Medici family. They wouldn't have the financial backing and opportunities to create all that they did. I don't know if we would have the statue of David or Brunelleschi's Dome or Botticelli's Primavera were it not for the Medici family. They made Florence beautiful and yet most of them were addicted to leading un-commendable lives. That is astounding to me. They weren't taken as a whole admirable people, and yet look at the legacy of beauty they made possible. I like to think that demonstrates there is hope for all of us to be able to see beauty in spite of living with much disappointment. You don't have to look hard to find ugliness on Earth, but beauty is there. Don't close your eyes to it.
7. One of your point-of-view characters is a little known Medici family member named Nora Orsini. Tell us about her. Why did you choose her?
Nora Orsini was the daughter of Isabella de'Medici and the granddaughter of Cosimo I. In the Girl in the Glass, Nora's short chapters precede every current-day chapter, as she tells her story on the eve of her arranged marriage. Very little is known about Nora Orsini, so I had the glorious freedom to speculate, which is the reason I chose her. I wanted the literary license to imagine beyond what history tells us. There is, however, plenty that is known about her mother, Isabella Medici. Nora did not lead the happiest of lives. I wanted to suppose that the beauty of her city offered solace to her, and that if it were indeed possible for Sofa, the tour guide that Meg meets, to hear Nora's voice speaking to her from within the masterpieces, she would speak of how the beauty that surrounded her kept her from disappearing into bitterness.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
While much of the time I enjoy reading non-fiction, there are those fiction books that deal with history that draw me in, and that was true of "The Girl in the Glass" by Susan Meissner. Meg, the protagonist of the book, has been waiting for years for her father to fulfill a promise to take her to Italy. When it finally happens, she hopes for the healing of a relationship--but instead it looks like it's going to be yet another broken promise. As the book proceeds, it becomes not only the story of Meg and Sophia Borelli--a possible writer who appears to be a descendant of the Medici family--but also the story of Nora Orsini, a Medici princess who appears to communicate with Sophia.The three women's lives intersect in unexpected ways, bringing unexpected consequences, because each of them--in various ways--has to answer the question of what "renaissance" means for them. Is it indeed truly possible to believe that life can change? that what appears to be true and set isn't what life has to be?This book is easy to read, and while the combination of stories could have been confusing, instead, each informs and impacts the other. It's a good read! This book was provided free of charge from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for reviewing it.
Such an awesome book!
Loved the story of meg and sofia i have many of this authors books and will continue to she writes wonderful stories
I enjoyed this book. I normally read series but it was nice to just read one book and have it wrapped up at the end. The author does an amazing job by transporting the readers to Florence. The reader can 'see' the amazing sculptures, structures, fountains, etc through Meg's eyes. At times I would take out my phone or get on my computer to look up the locations that are mentioned in the book to understand even more what is being described. I want to go there ever more now!
This is something I have not read before. It was something interesting. It has a few thing and it a bit confusing in the beginning but there are some surprises in the book. You hear to different thing one under the name Nora, and Meg story along with another person. This one got me a bit fun but it keep my attention to a point I did not want to put it down. This book also talk about a place in Italy. These places are something to learn from along with a surprise for you to find out about someone in the book as well.
This book inspired me to take another look at the way I view things. The characters were inspired and flawlessly flawed, I felt like I could have tea with Sofia and Meg and sit for a painting with Nora. The story itself was beautiful. There was just enough elements of magic that it sated the little girl in me but not too much that I felt the story wasn't real. I had never read a book that tied together elements from so many different genres so flawlessly. Two thumbs up! A must read!
This would be a fabulous read for anyone who loves art history, Florence, Italy, or a gently-paced tale that weaves both historical and contemporary story lines. Some readers may find themselves skimming the art history details, but most of them actually contribute to a depth of discovery that is ultimately meaningful to the main characters. The surprise ending was a delight. Coming from a Christian publisher and author, I was surprised that there was no faith element in this book beyond a mention that someone asked for prayer. I believe a spiritual thread could have strengthened the theme, but I still give four stars for skillful weaving of stories spanning several centuries, historical details, and for crafting genuinely likeable characters.
The Girl in the Glass confirmed Susan Meissner as one of my favorite contemporary novelists. I fell in love with her characters, especially Meg and Lorenzo, and didn't want the book to end. However, the ending was so satisfying that I find myself, once again, waiting for Meissner's next book. Others have reviewed the story line, so I'll limit myself to writing about some of the poetic aspects of the book which left me sighing or giggling or wishing for more. Fresh imagery such as, "the seesaw siren of a European ambulance" or "A line of Vespas, parked like dominoes ready to fall," peppered the pages. In another section, Meissner describes the jealousy Meg feels when Lorenzo walks in with another woman as follows: "I watched in what can only be described as junior-high jealousy as he came out onto the balcony with a lithe brunette on his arm . . . . Her eyelashes could shut a door with one swipe . . . .professionally whitened and perfectly straight teeth saluted me." In what proved to be the central dilemma of the book--choosing reality over fantasy or vice versa, she writes: "Emilio clearly saw everything black and white . . . but we were the ones who saw the countless shades of gray. We didn't choose reality over fantasy; we chose reality AND fantasy. We saw the beauty in believing some things can be imagined and also the security that some things can be counted on. The things we counted on made the things we imagined possible. And those possibilities made life wonderful and wild." In addition to all of this, Meissner succeeded in crafting a credible story weaving the lives of three separate women from two different centuries together in such a way that they forged a strong and memorable bond.
I really enjoyed this story, as I have enjoyed all of Susan Meissner’s books that I have had the chance to read thus far. She has a great talent for balancing her stories with just the right amount of detail to paint a vivid picture for the reader, without using so much detail that it becomes too much. This is a beautiful story that intertwines the lives of three different women, one from a time long since passed. The plot flows smoothly, and there is a twist at the end that was, for me at least, unexpected. I thought I had it figured out about mid-way, and I usually figure out a book’s ending rather quickly. But that was not the case with The Girl In The Glass. It’s a very wonderfully written story. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
When I first saw this book I was not sure what it was about so I looked it up and saw it was about a girl and her dream of going to Italy. I too am a girl who dreams of going to Italy so I thought what a great book to read. I fell in love with the book from page one. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I took my time reading it as I did not want it to end. Meg has been waiting for her dad to take her to Italy since she was a young lady, her dad made her many promises to go and they always fell through, well finally her dream is coming true and she will be going to Florence, Italy. She has had made some friends through her work with a brother and sister writing team Lorenzo and Reneta) and she was also looking forward to meeting them when she gets there and let's not forget her new contact Sophia who is sending her copies of the chapters to a book she is writing and would like published. When Meg gets to Italy she finds herself alone with nowhere to go so she makes her was to Lorenzo's flat only to find him not home but much to her surprise Sophia is home. Sophia then invites her to stay with and a close friendship is quickly formed. Starting the next morning Sophia takes Meg on a tour each day of Florence where she not only learns some history she learns about life. I love the way the author wrote this book, I too learned some things and felt like I was right there with Meg all the way. There is something that just draws you to Italy. I will say the ending surprised me a little as it was not what I was expecting - I can't say a whole lot more without ruining it. I also liked how the author summed things up at the end of the book. This is the first book I have read by this author and now I will be heading out now to find more books by this author. I absolutely give this book 5 stars. To learn more about Susan check out her website here Susan's other books include: The Shape of Mercy - Lady in Waiting - A Sound Among the Trees as well as others *"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."
3.5 Stars 'The Girl in the Glass' is an interesting novel about family, destiny, and finding yourself. The writing was well done and had a good pace. The setting of the novel was perfect and I loved getting to explore Italy in both the past and the present with the author's detailed descriptions. The storyline was intriguing and had lots of mystery, magic, and history mixed together. This was a really fascinating concept and the author managed to pull it off and still have the reader believing it could actually be true. I definitely recommend this for fans of historical fiction and also for those who love to read about foreign places and mysterious family secrets. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I was a little skeptical when I picked this book up. I never read anything by Meissner before and the backcover blurp appeared almost a little too simple, cliché, and childish for a young adult/adult book. Not to mention a bit weird. I mean, seriously, no one can talk to someone of the past through paintings and sculptures. You can imagine how surprised and pleased I was to find it a most refreshing read! Meissner uses fresh phrasing, to-the-point dialogue, a description that enchants as much as it sucks you into her world. Her story, revolving around book editor, Marguerite (Meg) Pomeroy, is one of mystery and history (definitely endearing for me). Meg has had one dream her whole life: to visit the ancient city of Florence. Ever since her Italian grandmother passed away, her father promised to take her as a graduation present. But she has long since passed high school, and then college, and still they have never taken the promised trip, and now she has a life immersed in the publication business. Life goes on day to day, and though she still dreams of going to Florence, reminisces about her past longings and memories of her grandmother, Probably the thing that singles this novel out the most is Meissner’s powerful way with words. Not only do you believe with every ounce of your being that Meg wants to go to Florence, that she should go to Florence, but you want to go too, to see the things she pictures, the settings she paints, the artwork she describes... Not only do you believe Sophia’s claim of hearing Nora, but you hear her too. And you want to tell the world. There is something almost magical in the way Meissner speaks, like a beautiful lilt of poetry, a last spec of color dancing on the horizon of a dark world. It is captivating. There was only one drawback to the book. Meg is needy, in many ways, all relatable and understandable, but throughout the books she struggles between “picking” one of three men. By the end of the book, the reader is more or less tired about her wishy-washy desires for love, yet inability to just sit down and choose. Still, it is a beautiful story about restoration, relationships, and learning to keep your imagination and reality in two places. "What does one do with a heart that has been broken? One might look for a bonding agent that will fuse all the pieces back together. Or one might learn to live among the shards. Or one might be tempted to sweep up the bits and toss them and be done with hearts." ~ Nora
My thoughts: A good book. Very descriptive in “painting pictures” of Florence and the many wonderful works of art that have come from this area of our world. I enjoyed the story line and how sometimes we have to just be brave and step out on our own – follow our dreams. Jumping between times in history was hard to follow at times, but in the end it came together. I enjoyed the characters of Meg, Sophia & Nora and how their lives entwined. (rev. P.Howard) DISCLOSURE: A complimentary review copy was provided by Blogging for Books on behalf of the publisher, WalterBrook Press and the author to facilitate our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. Ever since Meg was a child, she had always dreamed of going to Florence Italy. Her mother had a painting on her wall of herself as a young child posing near a statue that has captivated Meg for a long time and became her calling. When her grandmother passed away, her unreliable father makes a promise to one day take Meg to Florence and unfortunately those plans are put on hold. Year pass Meg works for a book publisher and keeps in touch with Lorenzo and his sister from Florence who are writing a travel book. When her father shows up on her doorsteps promising to do go on his promise this time, the turn of events that follow Meg is one emotional roller coast. When Meg arrives in Florence, she has to come to terms that her father is not there to meet her. She ends up staying with Sofia Borelli a woman who claims to be possible the last Medici, who is writing a book about her life and claims to hear Nora Orsini's voice in paintings and statues. Sofia takes Meg on to a tour through Florence and all it's beauty that parts of the book had me wishing that I was there as well. I have never been to Florence but after reading The Girl in The Glass, I kind of wish one day to visit. Oh my goodness, I cannot express how I had felt about this book. I was happy and sad and angry. There were times that I wanted to scream and throw the book because of everything that unfolded. Other time my jaw hit the floor. Now, I have not read a book like this in a while and boy was I missing something. Susan Meissner writing is like beautiful magic. The book was amazing. It really was a roller coast ride of emotions. I loved the characters so much it was sad to see them go. I was very attached to Meg, because I know she wanted everything to happen for the best and I really hated Sofia's uncle and Lorenzo's sister – two characters that really mad me kind of mad through the book. I won't go into why or else it will ruin it. I loved Lorenzo as well, he had me rooting for him until the very end. This true was an amazing read. Even thought this is a Christian book, it was missing the Christian characteristics. It was a comforting clean read that was both engaging and compelling. Where you could truly feel for the characters and their love for Florence Italy.
How does she do it again and again? How does the author Susan Meissner create yet another amazing story that entwines past and present? Her novels gently invite you to step into their world. The people and their stories stay with you even after you put the book down. Susan’s characters are real and complex and become interesting people you long to know more about. The Girl in the Glass is no different... The Girl in the Glass is actually a story of three women - Meg, Nora and Sophia. Their different lives, though not all even in the same time period, fit together around Florence to form a wonderful story of love, loss and courage. They each are trying to decide who they are and whether or not their past or their parents’ choices define them now. Nora’s nurse encourages Nora in the following section for the book: She took me to the looking glass in my room and stood me in front of it. “You see that girl in the glass?” she said to me. “You are the one who will say who she is, Nora. You decide who she will be and whose daughter she is and the kinds of parents she has. You are the girl in the glass.” Does Nora find the courage she needs in the beauty that surrounds her? Will the lines between reality and fiction become too blurred for Sophia? Does Meg find someone worth the risk of being loved? She shares a beautiful, thought provoking thought from her greatly loved grandmother: “...Heaven’s rules don’t just tell us what to do and not do. They tell us what God is like. People searching for God only need to look at what God says is important. I think love is important to Him. so there are rules about it. Not to make us feel bad about how far we fall short, but to show us how wonderful the real thing is.” I have been sick recently, so of course sleep is even more important. However I truly had to force myself to stop reading and go to bed all the way through The Girl in the Glass. I could have read this book all night! In conclusion, I highly recommend this book... but maybe you shouldn’t start it on an evening when you really need to get a good night of rest! :) Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Blogging for Books, Waterbrook Multnomah Publisher’s book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Imagine having a trip that you have dreamed of taking, since you were a child. Your father has told you, and promised your grandma, that he will take you someday. As you get older, you start to wonder if the trip will ever happen. You think of taking it on your own, you meet clients through work that live there, and it weighs on you. Finally, your dad comes and tells you that now is the time. You start to hear that your dad may have done something that borders on bad and the next thing you know, you receive a parcel with a ticket for that day. You throw together a suitcase of stuff, send some quick messages to let your work know you won't be in the next few days, you find a friend to take you several hours to the airport and board a plane alone. You expect to see your dad when you arrive, yet when you arrive, he is no where to be found. You are alone in a strange city, a city you love and have always wanted to visit, but where you know only a couple of people that you have worked with but never met and you have no reservations, no plans. This is what happens to Meg in <i>The Girl in the Glass</i> by Susan Meissner. The Girl in the Glass is a captivating story that tells the story of Meg, Nora and Sophia. Meg fell in love with Florence as a child. Her grandmother had a painting of herself as a child in Florence. All of her life, Meg has dreamed of visiting her grandmother's Florence. She works as an editor for a publisher of travel books. Lorenzo, an author from Florence that she works with, introduces her to Sophia, a woman that lives across the hall from him that wants to be a writer. Sophia claims to be the last living descendant of the Medici family. She provides tours of Florence for travelers and is writing a personal memoir woven amongst the back drop of the great sites in Florence. Once Meg starts reading, she is hooked and keeps asking for more. The only thing that bothers her is how she will convince her company to publish the book, because Sophia claims to hear Nora Orsini speak to her through the great paintings and statues in Florence. Nora lived in the late 1500s and was the descendant of Cosimo de' Medici, when Florence was in the prime of the Renaissance. Her story is woven throughout the book and told from her perspective. After many years of promising to take her to Florence, Meg's father says that this is the year. She expects that they will plan the trip together, but one day a package arrives with a plane ticket for her and a cash card. The ticket is for that day! She frantically pulls everything together and gets to the airport for her flight, certain that her dad will be waiting to greet her in Florence but he doesn't. Through the course of the next week, Meg experiences Florence and gets to know Sophia, Lorenzo and Renata better. Suffice to say that the book is a wonderful tale that pulls you in and makes you want to keep reading. My only disappointment with the book is the inclusion of the Forward to Sophia's book. It's not that I was disappointed that her book was published, it was that I was disappointed to have two years summarized in two pages. I like that I don't have to wonder what happens to Meg and Sophia, but I would love to read more of the details of those two years. Who knows, maybe the author used that Forward as a way to provide a teaser for a future book that will explore the development of the story from the end of the first tale to the publication of her book.
Meg has dreamed of going to Florence since she was a child and she fell in love with a painting at her grandmother's house. But after her grandmother's death her less than reliable father is always putting the plans on hold. Even though she is now a grown woman, Meg waited to take the trip because she believed her father would fulfill his promise to her.....someday. A series of strange meetings and conversations with her father take place and this time she truly believes he will do what he says he will. But, when Meg arrives in Florence her father is nowhere to be found leaving her all alone in a foreign country. Luckily through her job, she knows of a brother/sister photography team that lives in Florence and had told Meg of a tour guide/aspiring memoir writer named Sofia. Not only is she at home, she invites Meg to stay with her while she is in Florence and show her around the city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long ago Medici princess communicates with her from the great master pieces of the Italian Renaissance. As Meg sees Florence through Sofia's and Nora's eyes her views of life are changed forever as she and Sofia answer the question: "What if renaissance isn't just a word? What if that's what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn't what has to be?" I was immediately drawn in and captivated by The Girl in the Glass. It was nothing like I had ever read before. It had the mystery element, an element of romance, and history. But it was more than that too. The book kept me guessing even when I thought I had it all figured out. There were parts that I thought were a little odd. There was a section that a deception took place having to do with Sofia's father, uncle, Meg, and Lorenzo that bothered me and I wished it had been written differently, but overall it was a great story. I loved the characters and the setting. The author's descriptions of Florence were wonderful. I also really enjoyed the ending. I received a complimentary copy of The Girl in the Glass from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.
A young girl falls in love with a painting. A painting. Then she falls in love with a place. Florence, Italy. In the painting a statue beckons with outstretched hand to a girl, her grandmother, her Nonna. The painting was crafted by the young girl's great-great-grandfather. Nonna tells this child that she, Meg, is the child in the painting. Just as her Nonna was that child once upon a time. Meg's obsession with the painting grows, especially after Nonna promises a trip to Florence upon high school graduation. But the trip never comes about as her Nonna dies when Meg is 12. Meg never gives up on her dream of seeing Florence and finding the statue in the painting. Her father's promises to take her there are never fulfilled. Finally, through her work, she finds herself in Florence still hunting her dream. And perhaps also hoping to find love, someone who truly cares for her. In The Girl in the Glass, Susan Meissner has painted with words an intriguing tale of love, lost love, jealousy, envy, and a mysterious tale involving an Italian writer named Sophia Borelli who believes she a descendant of the Medicis and in fact from Medici princess Nora Orsini. The story of these women is woven like threads in a tapestry. They each experienced a love of Florence at times joyous, at times fraught with frustration. Each of them have loved and yet been disappointed by that love, contrasting the cost of love and the gift of love despite circumstances. The Girl in the Glass is a book I could not put down. Meissner crafts characters that live on long after the back cover closes. Her descriptions of Florence transport. The plot builds every so slowly but powerfully. You won't be disappointed by this book! My favorite quote: "Imagine that you've been empowered to believe Renaissance isn't just a word; it's the essence of rebirth; it's what happens when you dare to believe what is isn't what it has to be; it can be remade."
Renaissance is a word with hope infused in every letter. The Girl in the Glass is about discovery, of places, people, of yourself and the strength that lies within. Meissner weaves a story about three women connected to the renaissance time period. These women are Meg, an editor for a travel book publishing company in California; Nora Orsini, a member of the Medici family in the Italian aristocracy; and Sophia Borelli, an aspiring memoir-writer. Their stories past and present collide with purpose and desire and their lives will be changed forever. Meissner’s story, on many levels, deals with disappointment, hope displaced and the determination to live daily with dreams in the present. She takes words like, Renaissance, rules of love and gives them new meaning for the heart. This story will stir your artist heart; will stir the imagination of the writer, and the dreams of the historian. Susan Meissner created unique characters that are realistic and interesting. Although the story started out slow, possibly intentionally, I thought it would go in another direction entirely and it did not disappoint. I would recommend The Girl in the Glass to anyone, especially for those with a love of the renaissance, beautiful art, and all things Italian. I received this eBook from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in their Blogging for Books program for this review.