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Thursday, 4 March 2010

Review: The Girl with the Glass Feet

Author: Ali Shaw
Genre: Magical Realism
Release date: 1st May 2009
Target audience: Adult

Summary from Amazon.co.uk:
A novel to fall in love with - for anyone who loved the escapism of "The Time Traveller's Wife" and "The Memory Keeper's Daughter". A mysterious metamorphosis has taken hold of Ida MacLaird - she is slowly turning into glass. Fragile and determined to find a cure, she returns to the strange, enchanted island where she believes the transformation began, in search of reclusive Henry Fuwa, the one man who might just be able to help...Instead she meets Midas Crook, and another transformation begins: as Midas helps Ida come to terms with her condition, they fall in love. What they need most is time - and time is slipping away fast.

The Girl with the Glass Feet wasn't what I expected it to be but that is sometimes a good thing. A good thing but not a great thing. The blurb makes it sound like an escapist fantasy but it really isn't a story about magic. It is a story about facing your fears, your past and the importance of human connections. The Girl with the Glass Feet is the story of Midas and Ida. Midas has lived on the island all his life. His father was a brilliant academic and enslaved Midas to a childhood of painfully stifling education. Midas grows up amid his parents' unhappy marriage and it leaves him emotionally deficient. In his adult life Midas lives a solitary existence which is only stimulated by his love of photography. Ida returns to the island after holidaying there to look for a cure for her strange condition. Her feet are turning to glass and she hopes that a mysterious old man may have the answer. From this point on the blurb suggests that these two characters journey together on love's path to find a cure but in my mind that is not what happens. The blurb is misleading!

There is a fragile kind of love that develops between Midas and Ida but there is no real adventure that they undertake together. The trials that Ida faces in an effort to save her feet are really endured alone or rather in the company of Carl who is the most dislikeable character in the book. Midas wants to help but it is his reluctance to be touched in any way by another person that holds him back. His past is suffocating him one photograph at a time. He thinks he can live only through finding the perfect light through his lense. It is sad and pitiful existence for someone who could live so much more.

The characterisation in this novel was really intriguing. Each person being a little strange and eccentric for a different reason. The narrative follows each of the characters and slips beautifully from the past to the present. I really enjoyed the manner in which the story was told. I was less enamoured of the actual plot. The question which I wanted to know the answer to was never resolved. I mentioned this to someone at work and she thought it never really needed to be answered but I felt its absence.

The Glass with the Glass Feet is the most enjoyable book I have read for the staff book group so far. As adults novels go, I actually thought it was elegant, mysterious and bitter-sweet. It was thankfully in no way pretnetious. The plot isn't what I would have hoped for but I still liked reading this book and think it would appeal to fans of magical realism.


Bookalicious Ramblings said...

Ooh, I've been wanting to read this book for ages, it sounds ... beautiful? I prefer the hardback cover though! Thanks for the honest review, this is definitely on my wishlist!

Rhiana said...

I do like the sound of it. I'll probably give this a go. I too like the other cover I've seen though.

Shweta said...

Sounds good to me. I will add this to my ever growing list of books.

Jo said...

Great review, Becky! Not sure if I want to read it though. I really dislike misleading blurbs! Perhaps I'll pass. Thanks for the review!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

O I love Magical Realism! Perhaps I should read it :)

Christina/Book Addict said...

I enjoyed your review. Sounds like an interesting read. What's this staff book club you talk about? Just curious since I work in a school, too.

Becky said...

Happy World Book Day Everyone!

Hi Christina, I run our staff book group. We meet once a half term and we all read one of two books. We get together and share our thoughts on them. It is fairly informal but it is a really nice way to get to know other members of staff who you wouldn't normally chat to. Also it forces me to read way outside of my comfort zone which helps to remind me how the children feel when we are them to do this. It was really easy to set up. I just sent out an email to see if people were interested. Then I started off by choosing two books on a theme. The first theme was debut novels. We set decided on a day that would work for us. We use Friday because it finishes the week on a high no matter what chaos we've had to deal with. We don't aim to read more than one book because most teaches have very little free time. They do most of the reading in the half term breaks. The sessions is usually 45 mins and we have tea and coffee. I know some groups who go to the pub but we have our session in the library because we all live in different directions and don't want to make the jounrey home any longer.

If you have any more questions, just let me know!

The Book Bug said...

Your book group sounds cool. When me an my cronies want to talk about books we sit in the cookery room foyer at school and talk (mostly dissagree) with eachover while were eating our lunch. For some reason the topic of the book bug is an emo always comes into the discussion. Not sure why, though.

Anyhowz, great review, as its adult, I don't think its my cup of tea.

Happy world books day!

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

Great review, I've been curious about this one!

brizmus said...

Well, I'm sad to hear that you didn't love this book, but your review has me thinking that I will quite enjoy it despite that. I'm a huge fan of magical realism, and I'm often willing to look over lack of spectacular plot for beautiful writing and good characters.
Anyhow, I look forward to reading it and comparing my review to yours.

I Want To Read That said...

Thanks for the review. I had been looking at this one because I really love the hardback cover - but don't think it's going to be my cup of tea.

Becky said...

Audrey, I'm really looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

I don't know why you all love the hardback cover. I think the paperback is beautiful. It oozes charm and magic.

Christina/Book Addict said...

Becky- thanks for getting back to me about that. It's a brilliant idea. I was curious b/c some people at work have a book club but it's about educational books- like comprehension strategies, classroom management, etc. I think it's great you have a book club that deals with fiction. I would definitely do something like that. I really like that idea!! Thank you so much for filling me in. I appreciate it. Out of curiosity? What's your next book?

Becky said...

Our next book is The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. A suggestion from someone who had read great things about it. I hear it is big in the US. Looks like a crazy but interesting book.

prophecygirl said...

I've seen this about, but I think this is the first review I've read. I think my mum would like it - thanks Becky!

Becky said...

Only too happy to help Jenny! :-)