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4.4 out of 5 stars313
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 16 April 2009
This is a lovely novel in which we are given both an involving narrative, full of mystery, and a rewarding romance. The heroine Fran tries to put back together the shattered fragments of the stained glass window with its glorious angel; as she does so she discovers, through a Victorian diary, the intriguing love story that lies behind the window's creation. This is therefore a story of restoration - not just of a stained glass window however, but of a relationship - Fran's difficult one with her father, who is ill. As with Rachel Hore's two earlier books, both of which I've also loved, the narrative switches between the present day and the past, and the interleaved chapters about the pre-Raphaelite artist who designed the window, and his love for the minister's daughter Laura, are beautifully evoked. I finished the Glass Painter's Daughter having very much enjoyed the storyline most of all, but having also had the pleasure of learning about the art and craft of stained glass making. A rich and lovely novel that, like the window, is cleverly and very satisfyingly pieced together.
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I was drawn to this book because of the storyline - the idea of a present day story revolving around the restoration of a stained glass window, whilst another story goes back to the past to discover the secrets behind the window's past - really appealed to me. Time slip novels can often be fantastic reads, if the suthor is able to make both stories engaging and relevant to eachother. When I first began reading THE GLASS PAINTER'S DAUGHTER, I truly felt that this was going to be such a book. However, as another reviewer has described, I also felt that about two thirds into this book, I found myself growing less and less fond of it.

The main character, Fran, inhabits a world of music and art - she is an accomplished musician, yet because of growing up in her father's world of stained glass, she also has artistic abilities. The two men who come into her life - Ben and Zac - also reflect this dichotomy; Ben is the organist at her local church and she meets him when she joins the choir, and Zac, who is her father's employee, reflects the artistic nature. At first, this adds another dimension to the book but after a while, it becomes just another element which got on my nerves. Unfortunately Hore writes about this triangle in a very cliched way, meaning it is obvious what will eventually happen.
But I think what prevented me from really enjoying this book as amuch as I thought I would is that there are so many strands to Fran's story and the book as a whole, that each strand seemed to have to compete for attention. Without wishing to give things away, while Fran works on the restoration of the window, there are also issues revolving around her ill father, her early childhood and her mother in particular, Fran's friends, her love life, not to mention the slowly unfolding story which is set in the past. Because of all of these, I felt as though despite reading hundreds of pages, I was not getting very far with the book. Different threads are picked up and put down sometimes with different amounts of time and attention given to them. I felt as though the story set in the past was often pushed to one side resulting in the book feeling a little clumsy at times. Rather than past and present relating in a nearly seamless way as other books manage, it made the two stories appear unrelated.

I was so disappointed with my reading experience regarding this book. I truly thought that I was going to love it. Unfortunately, for me, its hold on me lessened until I became slightly ambivalent towards it. Rather than sinking into this book, becoming surrounded and engulfed by the story, I felt as though I was just plodding through and I often found myself skipping sections so that I could get further along.
Although it started brilliantly - which is why I could not justify awrading only two stars - the magic of it disappeared.
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on 22 April 2009
I could not put this book down. I loved the way the writer takes a subject and weaves a story around it. Have now purchased her previous books and have started her second which is promising to be equally as captivating. Will also be visiting the stained glass museum which I would not have known existed without reading this book.I bought this writer on an Amazon recommendation after reading Kate Morton however I felt her to be more of a Par with Mark Mills
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on 14 July 2014
I had high hopes of this book as the subject matter interested me and the two timelines. Unfortunately a third of the way through I have decided to abandon it as it has descended into a ghastly chick-lit ouevre and I find it boring. I want a book to engage me by good writing and a captivating story ; unfortunately this is not although it started well it then descended into a tedious style; not for me I'm afraid.
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on 23 April 2009
I found this a thoughtful and compelling read. Rachel Hoare has done her homework well, and the characters became like personal aqaintances.This is her best book yet.Please keep them coming, it is so good to find a different new author who goes beyond the usual.
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on 27 May 2013
This is the story of Fran who has to come home from an itinerant musical career when her father suffers a stroke. Fran and her father have unresolved misunderstandings within their relationship as do several of the other characters in this accomplished novel. An intriguing restoration commission leads Fran to research the history of a stained glass angel window together with the history of her own family. A particular delight in this novel is the wealth of detail about stained and painted glass of both the Victorian and other periods. It took me through a sleepless and difficult night and I would certainly recommend it.
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As my review title says, when I first started this book, I thought it was definately a five star read. It was different and interesting. I loved the story behind it all and how it switched from past to present. I also really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Zak and Fran. I was reading it at every given opportunity.

But, as I got further in (about three quarters through) some things began to really annoy me. Firstly, religion. The author felt it necessary to ram this down your throat at every given opportunity (at one point it says something along the lines of, we may be loved in life but ultimately we go into the dark on our own!). I found it a bit much. Also, things happened far to quickly for me to keep up. I quite often had to go back and check! Finally, the ending was (for me) rushed and far, far too perfect.

It was an enjoyable book, but I didn't like the ending. I would recommend it but I think I'd warn people that it's definately not a light read (especially with all the religion). It saddens me to say, it only gets three stars from me.
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on 16 December 2013
This is the first book I have read by Rachel Hore. I will definitely be buying her others.

Its difficult to weave past with present as expertly as Rachel has. I was also impressed with her ability to illustrate the difference between infatuation and love. She explores many facets of loss: of ones child through death or divorce, of parent, of health, of possessions and of love. In all, the book was for me, deliciously moreish and unlike many current books, she did tie up all loose ends, bringing the book to a satisfying conclusion.

One tiny criticism is that I felt she could have left out the story about her friend Jo and the build up via Jo's mysterious behaviour. It leads us to believe this will fit somewhere into Fran's own story and yet it does not. It seems to sit on its own as a sort of 'flash fiction' - Jo was more or less a background figure - only really needed to introduce Fran to Ben and Amber. Therefore I felt irritated and side tract by her mini story which seemed so insignificant to anything much else going on.
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This a lovely novel primarily about stained glass makers both in the 1800's and present day, however, it also touches on many other subjects such as loss of a child, angels and the nature of faith. Beautifuly researched and the stories intertwine in a natural way. Some books using this method feel "clunky" but Rachel Hore has managed it seamlessly. I will definitely read her other books and hope they were as lovely as this one..
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 October 2015
The Glass Painter’s Daughter, by Rachel Hore, tells two interwoven stories set over a century apart. Each is written in a very different style. Much as I dislike the limitations imposed on a book by assigning it a genre, the modern section read like an easy romance, not the sort of tale I choose to read as I tend to find such books two dimensional. The historical section was more to my taste and I enjoyed it, but not enough to redeem the whole.

Set in the 1990’s, the modern section tells the story of Fran, a professional tuba player who is obliged to return home when her estranged father suffers a catastrophic stroke. We learn that Fran never knew her mother who died when she was young, and that she was raised by her father in a flat above Minster Glass, the stained glass shop which her family have owned and run for generations.

Fran’s father has a talented assistant at the shop, Zac. He is a quiet and reliable friend to Fran, especially after she is hurt by the self absorbed Ben, another musician she meets at choir. Along the way Zac and Fran help out Amber from the homeless hostel, a young girl who has had a tough start in life but who comes good when given the opportunity. Although their tale is nicely told I found the characters shallow.

Of interest was the author’s choice to set the story before mass use of internet and social media. It is easy to forget how these days one can research people and keep in touch on line, that this instant access is a recent phenomenon.

Zac, Fran and Amber are working to restore a stained glass window that has recently been discovered in a nearby church. The window, depicting an angel, provides the link to the historical element of the book. The protagonist of this section, Laura, is the daughter of the church vicar in the late nineteenth century. Laura’s family are mourning the loss of their son and daughter, Ned and Caroline. Another daughter is married and expecting her first child leaving Laura to support her grieving parents.

Laura also has love interests: Anthony Bond, the solid and upright churchwarden of whom her family approve; and Philip Russell, a man with an estranged wife who is commissioned to create two stained glass windows for the church on behalf of Minster Glass.

There are obvious parallels between the life experiences of Fran and Laura. There are also a great many angel references, something which I found a little too much at times.

I was put off this book early on when Laura peeked into her dead sister Caroline’s bedroom and noted the possessions still there, included a teddy bear. Caroline died in 1878 yet teddy bears became popular after 1902 following a bear hunting incident involving American president, Theodore Roosevelt. As an arctophile, this grated. Later in the story a window at Minster Glass is broken by vandals, and glaziers are called to mend it. I wondered why a shop trading in fancy windows could not replace a simple pane of glass themselves.

I considered too much detail was glossed over: failing to name other choirs at the time, referring to them simply as ‘well known’; the vicar’s lost glasses being found ‘in the obvious place’ which went unspecified. The homilies from the vicar as he gave well meaning advice seemed overly religious. I accept that he was a vicar so this was in character, but found it challenging to read.

I did enjoy the ending, which took us back to Laura’s story and worked well.

I guess I prefer my mysteries to be a little more subtle. I found this tale predictable with just the occasional unexpected event thrown in, rarely altering the outcome.

I like to read eclectically and this was not a typical book for me. Whilst I recognise that many others enjoy the genre, I will not be adding further romantic fiction to my TBR pile.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the Curtis Brown Book Group.
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