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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modestly ambitious debut
You can't really judge a book by its cover recommendations, but when the author endorsements are from Thomas Pynchon and John Banville, it does at least give you some idea of the kind of content and style inside, but it also sets up very high expectations for The Glass Ocean. If it were judged on plot alone, Lori Baker's debut feels like it's over before it's really...
Published 13 months ago by Keris Nine

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Glass Ocean
I bought this because it was well reviewed and promised insights into Victorian life. It seemed detached from Victorian and indeed any life, with most peculiar and unrealistic characters and a vague and unsatisfactory plot - over-rated piffle. Could not finish it.
Published 8 months ago by Gaynor


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modestly ambitious debut, 17 Aug 2013
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Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Glass Ocean (Hardcover)
You can't really judge a book by its cover recommendations, but when the author endorsements are from Thomas Pynchon and John Banville, it does at least give you some idea of the kind of content and style inside, but it also sets up very high expectations for The Glass Ocean. If it were judged on plot alone, Lori Baker's debut feels like it's over before it's really started, but it's an enthralling piece of writing that just dazzles throughout and leaves you wanting more at the end. If only this were the first installment of the life of the intriguing and compelling character she has created in Carlotta Dell'oro!

Essentially, The Glass Ocean relates little more than the question of how Carlotta - a ginger giantess in Victorian Whitby - became an orphan. That's however is not as straightforward as it might sound, the story related in fragmentary impressions with temporal shifts from the perspective of the 18 year-old Carlotta taking on the presence of her unborn state. Nor is it as complicated as that makes it sound either. While you're waiting for the book to come back to where Carlotta is fleeing at the start of the novel however, you soon become drawn into the horrible fascination of the bizarre non-marriage and eventual disappearance of her desperately mismatched, eccentric and slightly-disturbed parents.

Wrapped up within the very fabric of the work however is her father's obsessive preoccupation with the mysteries of naturalist discoveries, and attempts to replicate them in glass. This feeds very much into the writing itself, which is dreamlike, fragmentary, splintered and reflective, a kaleidoscopic swirl of constantly rearranging pieces. There's an impressionistic tone that reflects the subject to a large extent, short sentences hovering and batting about like a hummingbird, paragraphs swelling and heaving like the tide, conversations playing like a game of mirrors reflecting infinity, distorting characters and their mad thoughts to otherworldly larger than life proportions.

A sea of words, a tide of impressions, Lori Banks' writing however is also beautifully poetic and wonderfully descriptive, the writing itself attempting to transmute words into something living. It's far from overblown however, the writing achieving a remarkable precision in its observations, drawing the characters and the source of their obsessions with an economic means of expression. Perhaps too economic for anyone expecting a conventional plot or linear progression, but like any delicately crafted object, the true quality of the beauty, shape and arrangement of the Glass Ocean, its purpose and its intent only becomes apparent when its viewed as a whole, and you only have that when you get to the end. And even then, it still leaves you longing for more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite & Sad, 19 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Glass Ocean (Hardcover)
Lori Baker's The Glass Ocean explores and measures the many ways in which the human condition bends toward sadness and loss, and how our minds do everything possible to create alternative narratives, to overcome (or explain away) each disappointment, each loss, each devastation. The heartache builds, but also the sense of hope in the face of despair. This is a riveting, emotionally charged work of exceptional craft through which Baker builds profound energy and focus. The intersection of art and science, the natural and the human-made -- this is a beautiful and deeply engaging book of high literary art.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Glass Ocean, 20 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Glass Ocean (Hardcover)
I bought this because it was well reviewed and promised insights into Victorian life. It seemed detached from Victorian and indeed any life, with most peculiar and unrealistic characters and a vague and unsatisfactory plot - over-rated piffle. Could not finish it.
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The Glass Ocean
The Glass Ocean by Lori Baker (Hardcover - 1 Aug 2013)
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