Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Glass Minstrel by Hayden Thorne

The Glass Minstrel by Hayden Thorne

Review by: Lauren

Copy from: Author

Amazon Associate: Buy the book, we get a small percentage

Official Summary: The Christmas season in mid-19th century Bavaria is brought to life in the THE GLASS MINSTREL, a new, original historical novel from acclaimed author Hayden Thorne. Two fathers, Abelard Bauer and Andreas Schifffer, are brought together through the tragic deaths of their eldest sons. Bauer, a brilliant toymaker, fashions glass Christmas ornaments and his latest creation is a minstrel with a secret molded into its features. When Schiffer sees Bauer's minstrel ornament in the toy shop, he realizes that Bauer is struggling to keep his son's memory alive through his craft. At first he tries to fault him for this, but then recognizes that he, too, is seeking solace and healing by reading his son's diary, a journal that reveals, in both painful as well as beautiful detail, the true nature of his relationship with the artisan's son. In addition to the story of the two fathers, a third character is central to the plot: fifteen-year-old Jakob Diederich. The young man is burdened with his own secret; he develops an obsession with a traveling Englishman who stays at the inn where Jakob works. The lives of all three men intersect during the holiday as Schiffer tries to focus on his family in the present; Bauer struggles to reconcile his past and Jakob copes with an uncertain future.

Review: The Glass Minstrel was one of the first historical novels I've read in awhile...and definitely the first at all that had LGBT content. I wasn't entirely sure if it would be a fit for me...but I'm definitely glad I read it now as it was very interesting. The fact that it took  place in the 19th century certainly shows viewers that feeling attraction for a person of the same sex has been around for a long time, and this is nothing new. While The Glass Minstrel shows that it could be much harder to deal with in the past...that didn't mean you could not be happy.

The novel is told through three different points of view: Bauer, Schiffer, and Jakob. In the beginning of each chapter, there is a section from Schiffer's son's diary. This diary allows you to see the relationship as it was between the sons of Bauer and Schiffer and not just the gossip and speculation that surrounds the men in their small town. This was definitely an interesting addition to the story and I really enjoyed it.  As for Jakob, he knows that he's gay too...but he doesn't know of anyone else, and his best friend won't talk to him about it (after all, it was just a mistake, right?).  It's fascinating being inside Jakob's head as he finally learns the story behind Bauer and Schiffer's son...and that his feelings aren't so bad...but still, who does he turn to?

As for Bauer and Schiffer, they both have to deal with life after losing their sons...and hopefully come to a reconciliation about the past, their future, and each other.

I've known of Hayden Thorne for awhile now, but this was my first time actually reading one of her books, and I'm sure glad I did. The Glass Minstrel is definitely a winter story in many ways, but you shouldn't let that stop you from checking it out whenever you wish. Even if you aren't a historical fan, you might still enjoy this. It's a universal story that could take place anywhere at any time.

This will definitely not be the last Hayden Thorne novel I read!


Heather said...

If you are looking for other hisorical fiction with LGBT themes, try Tipping the Velvet or Fingersmith by Sarah Waters-both are very well crafted, and the characters are pretty well-drawn.

Ann On and On... said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Reading outside of your norm is good to do.