Customer Reviews for

The Secret of the Glass

Average Rating 3.5
( 15 )
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5 Star

(5)

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  • Posted January 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    6 out of 10 stars

    Is it just me, or was history class one of the most painful classes ever, in high school? It wasn't particularly hard, just...boring.
    This book is of the "historical fiction" genre. For me, reading historical novels was always the best part of history class. It became weary to have to read pages and pages of thick, heavy textbooks, and then sit through hours and hours of dull documentaries (though they were an easy method for me to catch up on my sleep), so being able to read something fictional, yet still relevant, was always a sort of relief. Had I been given the chance to read this book in 10th grade Honors World History, I might have dreaded that course a little less. Otherwise, I couldn't quite get myself to enjoy this book.
    Don't get me wrong, it's beautifully written. Morin pays such breathtaking attention to detail, and I swear, there wasn't one word that was used twice throughout the entire book. Aside from extensive vocabulary and amazing imagery however, the story lacked intrigue.
    Sophia, the protagonist, is an entirely two-dimensional character. She's the most beautiful of the three Fiolario daughters, and the most innocent of them too. Her biggest concerns are 1) her father is suffering from dementia; 2) she is betrothed to a man she despises, Pasquale da Fuligna; 3) she is in "love" with another man, Teodoro Gradenigo; and 4) she is the only woman in the world who knows the art of glassmaking. But because Sophia was such an unrealistic and unmoving character, I couldn't find mind myself feeling sympathetic for her at all. First of all, she practically bawled every time her father blanked out. Every so often, he would forget everything, everyone, and the doctors said he was losing his mind to age. Sophia is supposed to be the practical goody-good virgin; she's not doing anything practical or goody-good by crying for her father's disease. It was painful for me to read about such babyish behavior. Secondly, Morin made it clear that Sophia must marry da Fuligna, a man who is neither rich, nor handsome in any way. I actually laughed at this a little; surely the Fiolario family must have had the tiniest ounce of dignity. Why they would marry their eldest daughter off to a man who neither loved their daughter, nor had anything to offer, I'll be darned. And of course, Teodoro. Ah. He was probably the only character in the book I could imagine without giggling or wincing. Handsome, charming, polite...what a gentleman. So much of gentleman to Sophia actually, that within first meeting him, she declared to herself that she was in love with him. Chemistry? Nooo, who needs chemistry when you have love at first sight (even though you're already engaged)?
    Morin was clearly attempting to weave an intricate plot with complicated details, but for some reason, the two didn't mix. The Secret of the Glass made out for a really, really interesting textbook. I could have written my essay on Roman Studies with just this book, in the 10th grade. But as a novel, it was weak and had difficulty capturing my attention.
    I understand that this book was written because of an initial passion Donna Russo Morin held for Italian glassworks...a little too big of a passion, perhaps? I mean, the first paragraph of the book is an epic simile where glassblowing is compared to the reaching of an orgasm. I thought I was a fan of the hot and sweaty stuff until I read those few lines.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully written but not for me.

    Review by Stephanie: Is it just me, or was history class one of the most painful classes ever, in high school? It wasn't particularly hard, just...boring. For me, reading historical novels was always the best part of history class. It became weary to have to read pages and pages of thick, heavy textbooks, and then sit through hours and hours of dull documentaries (though they were an easy method for me to catch up on my sleep), so being able to read something fictional, yet still relevant, was always a sort of relief. Had I been given the chance to read The Secrets of the Glass in 10th grade Honors World History, I might have dreaded that course a little less. Otherwise, I couldn't quite get myself to enjoy this book.

    Don't get me wrong, it's beautifully written. Morin pays such breathtaking attention to detail, and I swear, there wasn't one word that was used twice throughout the entire book. Aside from extensive vocabulary and amazing imagery however, the story lacked intrigue.

    Sophia, the protagonist, is an entirely two-dimensional character. She's the most beautiful of the three Fiolario daughters, and the most innocent of them too. Her biggest concerns are 1) her father is suffering from dementia; 2) she is betrothed to a man she despises, Pasquale da Fuligna; 3) she is in "love" with another man, Teodoro Gradenigo; and 4) she is the only woman in the world who knows the art of glassmaking. But because Sophia was such an unrealistic and unmoving character, I couldn't find mind myself feeling sympathetic for her at all. First of all, she practically bawled every time her father blanked out. Every so often, he would forget everything, everyone, and the doctors said he was losing his mind to age. Sophia is supposed to be the practical goody-good virgin; she's not doing anything practical or goody-good by crying for her father's disease. It was painful for me to read about such babyish behavior. Secondly, Morin made it clear that Sophia must marry da Fuligna, a man who is neither rich, nor handsome in any way. I actually laughed at this a little; surely the Fiolario family must have had the tiniest ounce of dignity. Why they would marry their eldest daughter off to a man who neither loved their daughter, nor had anything to offer, I'll be darned. And of course, Teodoro. Ah. He was probably the only character in the book I could imagine without giggling or wincing. Handsome, charming, polite...what a gentleman. So much of gentleman to Sophia actually, that within first meeting him, she declared to herself that she was in love with him. Chemistry? Nooo, who needs chemistry when you have love at first sight (even though you're already engaged)?

    Morin clearly attempted to weave an intricate plot with complicated details, but for some reason, the two didn't mix. The Secret of the Glass made out for a really, really interesting textbook. I could have written my essay on Roman Studies with just this book, in the 10th grade. But as a novel, it was weak and had difficulty capturing my attention.

    I understand that this book was written because of an initial passion Donna Russo Morin held for Italian glassworks...a little too big of a passion, perhaps? I mean, the first paragraph of the book is an epic simile where glassblowing is compared to the reaching of an orgasm. I thought I was a fan of the hot and sweaty stuff until I read those few lines.

    Most histori

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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