Review: The Glass Painter’s Daughter

Rating: 3.5 / 5

450 pages

Simon & Schuster Ltd; Re-issue edition (September 10, 2015)

In a tiny stained-glass shop hidden in the backstreets of Westminster lies the cracked, sparkling image of an angel.

The owners of Minster Glass have also been broken: Fran Morrison’s mother died when she was a baby; a painful event never mentioned by her difficult, secretive father Edward. Fran left home to pursue a career in foreign cities, as a classical musician. But now Edward is dangerously ill and it’s time to return.

Taking her father’s place in the shop, she and his craftsman Zac accept a beguiling commission – to restore a shattered glass picture of an exquisite angel belonging to a local church. As they reassemble the dazzling shards of coloured glass, they uncover an extraordinary love story from the Victorian past, sparked by the window’s creation. Slowly, Fran begins to see her own reflection in its themes of passion, tragedy and redemption.

Fran’s journey will lead her on a search for the truth about her mother, through mysteries of past times and the anguish of unrequited love, to reconciliation and renewal.

We’re not sure how we feel about The Glass Painter’s Daughter. We were fascinated by some of the – quite obviously well researched – details about stained glass windows and how one specific one, featuring an angel, serves as a focal point in the stories and experiences of Fran and her Victorian era counterpart, Laura Brownlow, a minister’s daughter.

We’re always fascinated about connected stories and how an object can serve as a touchpoint for history, whether fictional or real, and it was these shared challenges and experienced that kept us invested in the story.

That being said, there were parts of the story that incorporated details felt random and unnecessary, slowing down an otherwise interesting story or causing to pause and scratch our heads in confusion. These included throwaway secondary plots, such as Fran’s friend having an affair with a politician which, instead of adding an interesting layer to the story, felt as though it came out of nowhere.

Regardless, the novel still does a wonderful job sensitively exploring the relationships we have with each other, whether it’s with strained family members or potential love interests as well as the myriad of interactions we experience on a daily basis.

Readers looking for a story that immerses them in specific subjects while also offering them an opportunity to become invested in watching – and cheering – people on as they work towards a major goal, will enjoy The Glass Painter’s Daughter.

But be warned: this isn’t a fast-paced story. There will be times when you’ll be tempted to skip ahead. Learn from our mistake; don’t do that otherwise you’ll find yourself going back and re-reading pages because of a minor detail that somehow becomes important in future chapters.

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