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.