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Beyond The Glass (VMC) Hardcover – 5 Nov 1998

3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New edition edition (5 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860680975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860680970
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 13.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 624,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Last in the Frost in May series, this delicate but powerful novel traces the descent of Clara Batchelor into madness . . . In many ways this is the most impressive of the series, with its bewilderingly honest portrayal of the breakdown of a woman and an artist. Clara's story is partly drawn from White's own collapse, her relationship with Catholicism and the influence of her adored but repressive father (GUARDIAN)

An extraordinarily perceptive and yet detached account of the descent into madness (GOOD HOUSEKEEPING)

Antonia White's true brilliance as a writer emerges (NEW STATESMAN)

Book Description

An extraordinarily perceptive and yet detached account of the descent into madness' Good Housekeeping

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First Sentence
USUALLY, Claude Batchelor was so eager to get down to Sussex for his annual three weeks holiday that, the moment the prize-giving was over, he changed hurriedly into tweeds and was on his way within an hour. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 26 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
The final end of a brilliant quartet of books, and Clara finally finds true love. But the experience of happiness is too much for her fragile sense of self and she descends into madness. This might sound depressing but ultimately this is a hopeful and uplifting book with a real sense of emotional catharsis at the end.

Clara's journey from Catholic girlhood (Frost in May) to tragedy and retreat (The Lost Traveller), from self-defensive burial in stifling safety (The Sugar House) to her final emergence as a woman in her own right is one of the most enthralling female journeys I have read. The novels are exquisately written and true, with no cliches and no easy happy endings. This really deserves to be far better known than it is.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
The third book in the Frost In May trilogy finds Clara living with her parents after the breakdown of her ill-fated marriage. Struggling to come to terms with the things that have happened to her and the expectations of family and friends she suffers a breakdown which sees her committed to an asylum.
Closely following Antonia White's actual experience this book is moving and terrifying. You feel what it is like to be perceived and treated as insane when it all you are unable to do is conform to the expectations of others.
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By LES FERRY-ROBERTS on 26 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read all 4 of the books, FROST IN MAY, THE LOST TRAVELLER, THE SUGAR HOUSE and then this BEYOND THE GLASS, in sequence and was so sad to finish. A great writer and story teller. This series gives a great insight into the Catholic religion.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Anyone else think so? 22 Jun. 2011
By A reader - Published on
Format: Paperback
In agreement with another reviewer, I think that readers who appreciate Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar) will also find Beyond the Glass worth reading.

Aside from the excellent writing skills they share in common, something intriguing about Plath and White is that they both have events leading up their so-called "madness" which seem to have been overlooked by their doctors. Although I would hope that times have changed...all too often, it seems that modern medicine is prepared to cry "insanity" before actually doing a thorough investigation of possible root causes.

Reading Beyond the Glass, I was - over and over - struck by White's descriptions of an ailment which seems thyroid-connected. She mentions severe listlessness, sudden weight gain, changes in her hair, skin, eyes, and nails, depression, constantly being cold as ice, and more. Anyone with a long history of autoimmune thyroid disorders (and obviously, there are plenty of us out here) will start to wonder, or at least, that's what I assumed. However, when I looked around on-line, hoping that something had been written about Antonia White's thyroid disease, all I could find were articles about her mental illness. And there is no question that, especially as the story deepens, Clara is mentally ill. (Antonia White wrote the book later in life, based on her own experiences as a younger woman - and calls her character "Clara.")

The question is why - *why* is she mentally ill. And I still think her thyroid - perhaps - has a lot to do with it. Conditions like Hashimoto's Thyroiditis can cause intense swings from hypothyroidism to hyperthyroidism - and when Clara shifts into a "manic" state, what kept screaming off the page (at least, from my perspective) was severe hyperthyroidism. I will certainly admit that it may be hyperthyroidism AND other things, but it still seems to be heavily in the mix. Suddenly she is losing tons of weight as if by magic, has so much energy that she seems to be on speed, is hot all the time (even to the touch), has serious insomnia, suffers breathlessness and heart palpitations, and can't keep her hands from trembling.

What happens in Clara's life after that is so extreme that, really, you will have to read the book. I can't put it into words, and White did such a beautiful job that there's no purpose in messing with it. And even with all that happens in Nazareth Royal Hospital (Bethlem Royal Hospital/Bedlam, in real life), as "crazy" as it sounds, I still stand by the suspicion that somewhere in the root causes of this supposedly bipolar madness, there's an endocrine disorder.

And as far as the connection with Plath, I am extremely curious about the connection of Sylvia's initial toxic exposure during a near-fatal shellfish poisoning with her ensuing "madness." Yes, she may have been high-strung and prone to the somewhat "normal" melancholic bent of a writer before that episode - but I have read her diaries and letters, and I don't think she was ever crazy. Her nervous system was seriously assaulted by some rotten shrimp, and she was never the same afterwards. No one who knew her thought so, either - at least from what I found.

I'd be interested to hear if other readers locked on to the same medical details, and what they made of them.

All this to say: whether you're interested in the medicine or not, read Plath and White. You'll find it well worth your time. They can write, and I'm certainly glad they did. If only the personal cost had not been so high for both of them.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Excellent classic of romance and madness 6 May 2001
By Deborah Black - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I recently re-read it after a gap of around 15 years and enjoyed it as much as ever. It is an elegantly written story of first love, relationships with parents in the 1920s in England, and of Clara's experiences in the lunatic asylum. Based on Antonia White's real experience, Clara completely loses touch with reality and thinks she is a salmon, a horse, and her father the devil. Completely fascinating and beautifully written. Fourth in the series of 4 autobiographical novels.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Beyond the Glass 23 Oct. 2004
By Erica Cresswell - Published on
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Antonia White's book, Beyond the Glass, and I have to say it's incredible. I recently read Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and I loved it. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed White's book as much as Ms. Plath's book. If you liked The Bell Jar I'm fairly confident that you will quite enjoy White's Beyond the Glass.

As far as I know there aren't many books of autobiographical fiction about the experience of manic-depression. I found White's description of hypomania breathtaking, particularly the scene where she and Richard are on a drive on a "[...] brilliant November day". I found the images chilling: `the leaves and bare stems, stubble and dying grass, glowed with soft fires of crimson, amber and rosy brown'. White shows her genius as a writer in this scene: she successfully conveys Clara's intense hypomania and shows that the enthusiasm that accompanies such an abnormal mood state can make even the dullest of November days "brilliant" and beautiful... painfully beautiful almost.

I have experienced such vast moods swings myself and I must say that White captures the experience perfectly. She was truly an incredible writer.

Even if you haven't experienced the mood swings of manic-depression you will enjoy the book; the language is simply stunning. Clara is a survivor as White must have been; if you have ever felt that all the odds were against you this book will inspire you. It's the kind of book that makes you feel less lonely; it's the kind of book you know you will re-read more than once.
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