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The Girl with Glass Feet Hardcover – 1 May 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; First Edition; 1st printing. edition (1 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843549182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843549185
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 3 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Fantastically imagined.... The hybrid form of the book—fairy tale, myth, psychological realism and fantasy—impresses. But Shaw’s most delightful offerings are the vivid details he provides to make the magical real.... As Ida turns to glass, Midas must continue his own transformation, from hardened to human. The end of the book, saturated with color and emotion, is risky and brave like the message it imparts. Only a heart of glass would be unmoved."—Robin Romm, "New York"" Times Book Review""Ali Shaw has created a memorable addition to [the] fabulist pantheon in his gorgeous first novel, "The Girl with Glass Feet."... Over the course of this eerie, bewitching novel, the mixture of love and grief and the imminence of death become as memorable as Ida’s mysterious, dreadful transformation and Midas’s more achingly human one ... Shaw acknowledges the influence of writers like Andersen, Kafka and Borges (Shaw's menagerie of perfectly detailed, marve

About the Author

Ali Shaw was born in 1982 and grew up in a small town in Dorset. He graduated from Lancaster University with a first class degree in English Literature and has since worked as a bookseller and at Oxford's Bodleian Library. He is currently writing his second novel.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Kat on 16 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
I thought this was an unusual story that was beautifully written and stayed with me long after I'd finished it. I do agree in part with some of the reviews but the book is described as a fairy story for adults and it is just that. I found Ida's condition and the random elements of magic and mystery connected to the Islands perfectly in keeping with the whole story. I didn't feel any need to question them or expect an explanation. As a first novel I thought it was exceptional and I enjoyed it far more than many stories I've read by more established and experienced authors who, in my opinion, excel in writing ability but don't necessarily have the same imagination to create such a strange and beautiful story. Read it and make your own mind up, but definitely an author to watch out for.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Isola on 27 July 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Girl with the Glass Feet" is a grown up, European fairy tale set on a fictional northern archipelago where nature asserts itself in strange ways. Although a magical tale, the story is modern, containing real life experiences. I believe it's Ali Shaw's debut novel after his English Lit. degree.

I don't think I was sufficiently in touch with my imagination the first time I read this book - and after a second read I still can't connect with miniature flying cattle!! However, this is a hypnotic novel with an atmosphere all of its own and Shaw writes finely honed prose. His writing is very English and the story is told at a gentle pace. I think it's a young person's read, but that could be because the author himself is only in his twenties.

Exuberant Ida MacLaird, from the mainland, meets an introverted photographer, Midas Crook who was born and bred on St. Hauda's. She tries to rescue Midas from the past and he tries to rescue Ida from the future. If you changed her condition to an earthly incurable desease, I feel the story would stand alone - without the flying cattle!

But this is an imaginitive first novel full of love, but also the power, limitations and consequences of love. Although only around 300 pages it isn't an easy, or even a comfortable read at times, but it is hauntingly beautiful when Shaw paints his fictional setting in those cold Nordic hues.

I found most of the characters interesting as they were flawed; not all likable, although they were engaging - but oh how the author makes the women suffer! I also think there must be 'something' in the names of the progtagonists, 'Midas' & 'Ida' besides touch - as her name is within his, but I didn't work it out.

For me, Shaw's debut novel lacks experience, but is rich in invention; set to improve.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By DB Roberts on 22 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
'The Girl with Glass Feet' is an accomplished and beautifully written first novel. The snowbound archipelago of St Hauda's Land is poetically rendered and elements of fantasy or magical realism are effectvely counterpointed by a keen photographer's eye for naturalistic detail and a well judged sense of psychological realism.
The fantastical nature of Ida MacLaird's predicament is brought to life by the quality of the writing and an admirable attention to anatomical detail, making suspension of disbelief surprisingly easy. This is some achievement and a major strength of the book. Ali Shaw makes you believe in and care about his characters, as a result this is a moving and emotionally satisfying read.
In some ways the whole novel is an extended poem to a landscape that is both real and fantastical and echoes with it's character's past and present, their potential and their frozen emotional states. Ida's presence is transformative, most particularly for Midas, just as she herself is transformed in a terrible and tragic way.
At times along the way, the merging of reality and fantasy does throw up the odd inconsistency and unanswered question. But then, as Ian McCulloch once said when asked about his lyrics, "Who wants to explain poetry?"
Read it and enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Green_Eyes on 15 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hoping that this would be an enchanting and interesting 'adult fairytale,' I purchased this for my Kindle - what a huge disappointment. The only positive thing about it was the descriptions of St Hauda's Land and the way Ida's body is becoming glacial, but even these descriptions got tiresome at times.

I didn't care about any of the characters. For example, all the men are the same and all seem to merge into one big 'emotionally scarred' male character. I didn't think any passion shone through with any of them - they were all just too scared all the time. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but you can't beat a big strong alpha male character!

My main frustration with this, however, is that the story just does not progress at all. We know right at the start that Ida is turning to glass...and this is all we know at the end too. WHY does she turn to glass in the first place? What can cure it, nothing?! I thought something in the book might provide some sort explanation along the way, perhaps giving clues to us throughout before the climax, ending chapters on cliffhangers...but that is not the case. What exactly are the moth-winged cattle, for example? What is the point of introducing all these fantastical ideas without linking them in some way to the main storyline? This must be the only book I've ever read with no 'denouement' whatsoever - and it leaves you with a massive sense of unfulfillment and a feeling that you've just wasted hours (well, days even) of your life. I. just. don't. get. it!!
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