Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Glass Painter's Daughter by Rachel Hore

*****
Fran is forced to return from her nomadic life of playing in various orchestras around the world when her father is taken seriously ill. She goes back to the family business, Minster Glass and tries to maintain things with the help of her father's assistant, the taciturn, Zac. Fran has a fractured relationship with her father, which was further damaged by his refusal to talk about her mother, who died when she was very young. Her father's stroke means that she is unable to address their problems and find out about her own family history, she is further frustrated to find that her father has befriended and confided in the local vicar. Through the work at the glass shop she becomes embroiled in the journals of Laura, a young Victorian woman strongly linked to both the parish and the business. Laura's family had their own tragedies and commissioned a glass window, which 120 years later Fran and Zac are trying to repair. The stories are Laura and Fran are intertwined throughout the book.

The main themes of redemption, forgiveness and moving forward are reflected in all the main characters lives. Christianity and angels play a large part in this book and despite me being a complete agnostic, that didn't grate. I loved it, the novel has a warm, spiritual feel and although the story is gentle, the way Fran develops from being a rather spiky individual to a much warmer, whole person as she allows others into her life had me gripped. Yes, the romantic angle is predictable right from the beginning and you wonder why it takes so long for Fran to realise what's going on, but it works with her lack of understanding of herself and her background and the need to find her own place in the world.
It's cleverly and subtly written and I will definitely be looking to read further from this author.