The Glass Harmonica: A Novel

The Glass Harmonica: A Novel

4.6 5
by Louise Marley

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Eilish Eam is an orphan and street musician, living in 1761, London. She survives on pennies and applause, and nothing more. Until the night Benjamin Franklin stops to listen, awe-struck by her gift-and with plans for her future...

Erin Rushton is a classical musician living in 2018, Seattle. She stands in the orchestra, consumed by the music-and haunted by


Eilish Eam is an orphan and street musician, living in 1761, London. She survives on pennies and applause, and nothing more. Until the night Benjamin Franklin stops to listen, awe-struck by her gift-and with plans for her future...

Erin Rushton is a classical musician living in 2018, Seattle. She stands in the orchestra, consumed by the music-and haunted by visions of a young girl from a different time, who needs her help...

Editorial Reviews

It is rare to find a book that can fit into multiple genres�and do it well. Marley's latest offering does just that. Although it is billed as science fiction, this book might just as easily fit into historical fiction as well. There also is some mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in. The Glass Harmonica tells two different but connected stories about two young girls and the music of the glass harmonica. Half of the story takes place in eighteenth-century London, as a young girl named Eilish assists Benjamin Franklin with the invention of the glass harmonica. Although Eilish was not a real person, most of the characters in her part of the story are historically accurate. The rest of the tale is set in 2018, with musical prodigy Erin. Erin and Eilish share the love of the glass harmonica and the ability to play it well. The girls also share the ability to "see" each other through time. It is clear that Eilish has information for Erin, although neither one of them knows what that is until the end of the novel. This well-written, engaging story is sure to arouse curiosity about the instrument and prompt further discussion. The possibilities for use in the classroom are endless. Public librarians would be wise to incorporate this novel into a book discussion group. Although it is not aimed directly at teens, there is nothing to discourage them from reading this book. The different periods and points of view might be too much for young readers to follow, but older teens should not have a problem keeping up with the story. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined asgrades 10 to 12). 2000, Ace Books, 334p, Trade pb. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Jennifer Rice VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
This novel, about the beauty and healing power of music, tells the story of two young women, separated by centuries but united in their love for a most unique instrument. In 1761, orphaned Eilish, a beggar playing the glasses on the street, meets Benjamin Franklin and is invited to be his guest and play his new invention, the Glass Armonica, an instrument made of spinning, water-filled glasses that are played with the fingers. The instrument is a sensation, and Eilish pours her heart into it, even as she is literally dying for her art, and as she is haunted by the specter of a mysterious woman. In 2018, musician Erin Rushton and her brilliant but disabled twin brother Charlie are causing a sensation on the music scene with the Glass Harmonica, an instrument recently rediscovered after being banned in the 1800s amidst rumors that it drove its players and listeners mad. Erin's concentration on her music is disrupted by her brother's involvement in a radical new therapy that could allow him to walk again...or could damage him further. When Erin begins to see the specter of a young girl, she is at first afraid, then intrigued. Following her to Franklin's own original invention, Erin finds that the power to heal Charlie lies within them both, through the glass harmonica. This delicate, beautiful novel is a love story between brother and sister, artist and music, musician and musician. Indispensable for all fantasy collections. KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Berkley/Ace, 334p, 23cm, $13.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Deirdre B. Root; Ref. Libn., Middletown P.L., Middletown, OH January 2001(Vol. 35 No. 1)
Charles M. Locurto
Marley shows a real feel for the elements that make fantasy (and science fiction) popular.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.96(w) x 8.94(h) x 0.97(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Greg Bear
Louise Marley's knowledge of music and story make for a stunning combination of talent.

Meet the Author

Lousie Marley, a performer of classical music, is the author of several novels including The Terrorists of Irustan and The Glass Harmonica, which was the co-winner (with Ursula LeGuin’s Tales from Earthsea) of the 2001 Endeavor Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science Fiction or Fantasy. She lives in Redmond, Washington with her husband and son.

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Glass Harmonica: A Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago and never forgot how great it was. I am looking foward to reading it now on my new nook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whether you call this book sf, fantasy, or historical fiction, it's wonderful storytelling. The genre doesn't matter so much as the characters and what happens to them and what the world is like that they live in. Meet colorful Ben Franklin, the charming boy Mozart, and two appealing musicians who reach out to each other over two centuries--just a delightful novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a pleasure of a book, really two stories in one--lots of authentic historical detail, lots of interesting science in the near-future. The glass harmonica is a real instrument with a very strange history, and makes a wonderful vehicle to tell the stories of Eilish Eam, Irish orphan of the 18th century, and Erin Rushton, famous musician of the 21st century. Along the way, the reader gets to meet Ben Franklin and the young Mozart. Terrific read!
harstan More than 1 year ago
A pathetic waif in eighteenth century London and an ultra-famous concert musician in twenty-first century America. What could they possibly have in common? Perhaps it is the odd musical talent they both possess, and the unusual musical instrument they play. For Eilish Eam, the water-filled glasses are old and dirty and apt to be broken. For Erin Rushton, the glass harmonica is a prized and beautiful instrument. But both of them can play, and each of them is aware of the other. Three centuries and thousands of miles apart, Eilish and Erin's lives are destined to be intertwined.

Louise Marley makes music with her words in The Glass Harmonica. She imbues both the eighteenth century waif and the twenty-first century diva with characteristics the reader cares about. The idea is fresh, the story is compelling, and Ms. Marley's writing is engaging.

Rickey R. Mallory