House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family (Hardback)Hadley Freeman (author)
An engrossing piece of literary detective work, House of Glass details the lives of Hadley Freeman’s grandmother and her siblings across the globe and through a turbulent twentieth century.
I stood up to shut the closet door and that's when I spotted the shoebox right at the back, behind a pile of leather handbags ... surely I thought it would contain another pair of slightly battered kitten heel sandals.
So I sat on the floor, pulled it out and opened it. I did not find shoes. Instead it was filled with secrets my grandmother had managed to keep all her life and some years beyond.
When Hadley Freeman found a shoebox filled with her French grandmother's treasured belongings, it started a decade-long quest to find out their haunting significance and to dig deep into the extraordinary lives of her grandmother, Sala, and her three siblings, Henri, Jacques and Alex Glass. The search takes Hadley from Picasso's archives in Paris to a secret room in a farmhouse in Auvergne to Long Island and to Aushwitz.
Hadley had only really known that her grandmother had met her American grandfather through her brother Alex in Paris, and that she travelled to America to marry him in the late 1930s. But by piecing together letters, photos and an unpublished memoir, Hadley is able to thrillingly recount the full story of all the Glass siblings - Alex's past as a fashion couturier and friend of Dior and Chagall, trusting and brave Jacques, a fierce patriot for his adopted country, the brilliant Henri who hid out in place after place in occupied Paris - and about each of their bids for survival during the Second World War. She discovers her great uncles' extraordinary acts of courage in Vichy France alongside her grandmother's equally heroic but more private form of female self-sacrifice.
Addressing themes of assimilation, identity, and home this powerful story of the past explores issues that are deeply relevant today. A moving memoir following the journey of the Glass siblings throughout the course of the twentieth-century, House of Glass is a thrilling account of love, loss, family and belonging.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Number of pages: 464
Weight: 570 g
Dimensions: 222 x 141 x 41 mm
'A near perfect study of Jewish identity…in the 20th century. If there is a better book about the anguish of Jewish survival I have yet to read it.' - The Daily Telegraph
'House of Glass is extraordinary. It reads like a mystery and a memoir and a gripping history of the last century ... Freeman doesn't hide from the grey spaces people inhabit during wartime, or shy away from drawing the terrifying parallels to today's iterations of those ancient hatreds. It's a brave and wonderful book' - Nathan Englander
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To think it all began with finding a red, slightly dusty shoebox at the back of her grandmother’s closet. This startling moment is how this intricate memoir begins. Overflowing with interesting characters. Hadley... More
Fascinating. Devastating. Wonderful. I couldn't put it down. A beautifully written, compelling read.
“A singular story that so many people will identify with”
I love Hadley Freeman’s writing (read her column in the Guardian every week) and I have always been fascinated by Jewish history. Why this should be I don’t know, but I do read a lot of books on this subject area.... More
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