So this is something I started a while back. Sometimes you want more Austen books after you have read all her books. There are variations on her stories, but sometimes you don’t want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but what to read or watch?
That’s why I started this series. I will review books that have the things we love about the Austen novels, but in something fresher than a retelling.
The Glassblower (Glassblower Saga #1) by Petra Durst-Benning
The story is set in Lauscha, Germany-glassmaking capital of the world.
Joost Steinmann’s family has been the glassmaking business for years. When his wife passed he took it on himself to raise his three daughters: Johanna, Ruth, and Marie.
One day is a day like any other, but when the girls go to try and wake him for work-he’s dead.
After they bury their father and have a wake, they find themselves unsure what to do next. How will they survive in the turn of the century as three women? Especially, in a glassmaking village in a culture where women do not make glass.
So a family of three sisters who’s father dies and they find themselves at a crossroads and not quite sure what to do-especially as they have no money. So when I read that it instantly made me think of:
The eldest daughter, Johanna, is logical, sensible, business-orientated, and good at figures. As the eldest she budgets, shops, goes to the town nearby and bargains with wholesalers and shopkeepers. Her response to their dad’s death, other than heartbreak, is to immediately look for work-reading that made me think of:
Unlike Elinor, Johanna is stubborn, determined, and a bit hot-headed. She starts in the Heimer foundry-but after criticizing the way the glassblowing shop is run, she loses her job. She leaves to the city working for Strobel, the wholesaler and shopkeeper. She learns a lot from him, and grows from country girl to shop assistant. She does well, but her employer is an odd man with dark passions and plans for his protege.
The second daughter Ruth, has aways longed to be in choir, or out on the town, or be with boys-but her father kept them away. She is a romantic, dreaming of a Prince to sweep her off her feet.This made me think of:
Ruth decides to go husband hunting, looking for a rich man to take care of her. While working at the Heimer glassblowing business, she sets her sights on the unwedded son, Thomas Heimer. Thomas is not interested in getting married, but Ruth won’t settle for anything less-she tries to play the game to get what she wants, will she win? Or lose?
The youngest girl, Marie, is a dreamer who loves to read, draw, and paint. She also is interested in a “male” oriented profession, glassblowing. This made me think of:
Marie loves working in the Heimer factory as she loves to paint and design the glass. With both her sisters essentially moved out, Marie begins to fool around in her father’s workshop. After some instruction from their next-door neighbor, and very close family friend, she begins creating beautiful Christmas ornaments. But will her secret stay secret and she’ll be able to continue creating, or will it be discovered that a woman is glassblowing and she’ll be shunned from her community?
So you can already see why it is a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers as the setup has similarities to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. however, this is not a copy of that book.
I found this incredibly well-written as it captures your attention. The characters felt very real and it was a great story, one I didn’t want to put down.
It dealt with the reality of women living in a time where they were vulnerable without men and without many options.
I liked how the story was about the three sisters trying to work together, but that they also didn’t always gets along-very real. I hate when they have these absolutely perfect families. Johanna worries about everyone, but at the same time can boss them about and not listen to what they are saying. Ruth can become self-absorbed, but she is there if they need them. Marie likes solitary and quiet, but at the same time will put herself through anything for her sisters.
The book deals with serious issues, like rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, etc.
It also shows the culture and history of the beautiful glassblowing region.
I would strongly recommend checking it out!
For more non-Austen reads for Austen readers, Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Suitors and Sabotage
For more stories on sisters, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen
For more on Sense & Sensibility, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!