Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sisters of Glass

Sisters Of GlassSisters Of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I visited the Island of Murano twice in my life and the only word I can use to describe what I saw there is magic. It is a small place with a huge soul, so when I noticed Sisters of Glass on Netgalley and realized what it’s about, I jumped at the chance to read it. I felt that the spirit and the mentality of the place were captured exceptionally well.

Like her father before her, Maria has never left the island of Murano. She adores her family’s glassblowing business and has every intention of working with glass for the rest of her life. Her older sister Giovanna doesn’t share her interest at all, she only wants to marry a nice nobleman and be a lady in Venice. But when Maria’s beloved father passes away, his will clearly states that Maria is the one who needs to marry a nobleman and Giovanna the one who should stay on Murano. With her family in financial trouble, Maria needs to marry well and quickly and Senator Andrea Bembo seems like an excellent choice. Everything is working out great until Maria realizes that she has feelings for one of her family’s employees, Luca – an orphan and certainly not a nobleman, and the obvious choice for Giovanna to marry. At the same time, Maria notices that it’s not her Andrea Bembo really wants to marry, but her sister Giovanna. If these two couples follow their hearts, Maria’s family will be ruined, but if they don’t, four people will be miserable forever.

”For after the ship
takes you to consummate your marriage
and live in the house
of Andrea Bembo and his father
you shall not return to us”-
Vanna can hardly
finish the last words-
“but only wave us good-bye from on board.”

This would have been a lovely and charming little story were it not for the author’s attempt to turn it into a novel in verse, a decision that backfired spectacularly. The idea itself had merit: were the attempt successful, the fairytale feel of the story would have made a good combination with this type of narrative. However, there was no real poetry in it, the sentences were just awkwardly broken into lines. I decided to completely ignore it at one point, and only because of that did I manage to finish, and actually enjoy Maria’s story.

Although it apparently has 270 pages, it took me no more than an hour to read Sisters of Glass, and I finished it with a smile on my face. If you can get past this whole unsuccessful ‘novel in verse’ business, the story is quite charming and incredibly cute.


  1. It definitely sounds promising despite the failed attempt to be in verse. I'm glad it was a quick but worthwhile read for you. Nice review! :)

  2. I've never heard of Murano so I looked it up and read a bit about it, so thanks!

    This does sound like a sweet book and I love the colours of the cover too

  3. Oh, Maja!! You make me want to go to the Island of Murano so badly! I've always had a love for small and magical places and this one sounds PERFECT. :) <3 But it's too bad that the way it was attempted to be written ruined the book for you -- I'm the exact same way! As much as I love poetry, sometimes I feel that it's hard to connect with the flow in the story which makes it feel choppy, and everything goes downhill from there.

    Still, you have a real talent with making me want to reading books despite their flaws! Beautiful review, Maja! :) It sounds like such an adorable book! <3

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  5. Oops try again...I am interested in the glass making parts and Murano but the whole verse thing I don't know if I want to wade through that. I am afraid it sounds a bit predictable too. This sounds like a fun book otherwise.

  6. That is frustrating. This book has a lot going for it--the cover, the fact that I'm obsessed with glass know, the normal things:) I had no idea it was written in verse but that is usually a dealbreaker for me. The story sounds interesting and I was loving the review until that. But I still love glass art:) Dale Chihuly, who does absolutely amazing glass art, is from the Seattle area and there is a big glass art museum here. I'm sure there is much more in Murano but I'll take what I can easily get:)

    1. I happen to know all about your obsession with glass art, Flann, and I have a postcard to prove it. This place would be absolute heaven for you, I swear. :)

  7. Oh that book tree is epic! Anyways, too bad the verse style writing was poorly done. I, myself, would stay away from this one just for that fact. I'm not sure I'd like verse writing books I've never read one but only bc I don't think it'd be something I'd like.

  8. Yikes!

    I have yet to read a verse novel, for some reason they just don't appeal to me. Based on the reviews I've read for verse novels, it seems like they either really work or they don't. I'm interested in trying one someday. Sorry this one didn't work for you very well. Hope your next read is much better.

  9. Jealous you got to visit Murano, it sounds beautiful. Another book with glass making in it. Too bad this one wasn't as good as Graffiti Moon.

    Have you tried any other verse novels? Chasing Brooklyn was really good.

  10. I completely agree, Maja!
    All the time I was reading it I was wishing it wasn't written in verse!

    Fantastic review.

    ps. I second Rachel's recommendation, Chasing Brooklyn is excellent.


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