I recently read Susan Meissner's newest novel The Girl in the Glass. I was previously unfamiliar with Meissner as an author, although I plan to become further acquainted with her work. The initial description of The Girl in the Glass caught my attention due to the juxtaposition of art history and a travel story. Although I haven't traveled much yet, I yearn to do so and thought this story looked interesting. However, as I began to read The Girl in the Glass, the story was not simply interesting, but held me completely captivated unlike many other books I have read recently.
Meissner combines several great stories into one mesmerizing tale. The larger story focuses on Meg, an editor whose lifelong dream is to visit Florence, Italy where her grandmother lived as a child. As part of Meg's story, we become introduced to Sofia whose story ends up holding multiple twists and turns with a very suprising ending. Throughout the story, in between each chapter and through the story of Sofia, we are also introduced to Nora who lived in renaissance Florence. Many other characters appear and help to tie these various stories together in a most surprising way.
Part of what makes The Girl in the Glass so captivating is the mixture of various genres of writing. The Girl in the Glass definitely contains some mysterious qualities although it is not strictly speaking a mystery. There is a definite romantic overtone although it is definitely not a stereotypical romance. It is also part travelogue and part memoir as well, with just enough history thrown in so that the reader understands the Medici family and renaissance Florence.
The Girl in the Glass is published by Waterbrook Press which is a Christian publishing house. As such, I initially read the book expecting church or Christianity references and as is typical in much Christian fiction, a clear presentation of the Gospel. However, all of those elements were missing. One of the characters mentions attending church and there were a few passing references to prayer. Otherwise, I had no idea I was reading a "Christan" novel. Not having read any of Meissner's other works, I am not able to indicate if this is typical of her books or not. The only thing that kept me from thinking this was any other contemporary novel was the absence of foul language and sexual encounters, although there were several lingering kisses to give the story some sexual tension.
All in all, I give Susan Meissner's novel The Girl in the Glass an enthusiastic recommendation for anyone who is looking for something new to read. It is a great novel for a relaxing afternoon. Some reviewers indicated the story was a bit far-fetched. I did find that to be true but instead found Meissner to be an imaginative author. I look forward to locating and reading some of her previous works.