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A Map of Glass

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  868 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
From the author of the best-selling, award-winning The Stone Carvers and The Underpainter comes a new novel that explores love, loss, and the transitory nature of place. After Jerome, a young artist on a remote island retreat, discovers Andrew Woodman s dead body frozen in the ice, he meets the elderly man s former lover, Sylvia, who is curious about the circumstances surr ...more
Paperback, 371 pages
Published March 8th 2007 by Lawson Library (first published January 1st 2005)
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Compelling CanLit Fiction
156th out of 195 books — 34 voters
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492nd out of 661 books — 296 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,567)
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Traycee Wiebe
Mar 09, 2009 Traycee Wiebe rated it did not like it
Shelves: canadian-lit
I totally struggled reading this book and so it has to get the lowest rating I've ever given a book. I honestly didn't like it, but instead chose to persevere to the end, giving it as many chances as I could.

What didn't I like? Well, the story, for one. I found the pieces very disconnected and from the very first pages, I felt as though the author had isolated me from context, civilization, normalcy and cognition. I never saw how the storylines came together and I tended to not care about any of
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 22, 2011 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
In a haunting, topographically rich novel that transports the reader to a disappearing region of a rural, Canadian peninsula, two narrative time periods tell a story. The novel, textured with the natural world of impermanence and change, progresses with an almost hyperreal cohesion, drawing out its themes under drifts of snow, sheets of ice, bare-branched trees, windswept sand, and glassy lakes. The map of this region moves from macrocosm to microcosm, from the mutations of the landscape to the ...more
Juliet Wilson
Nov 24, 2009 Juliet Wilson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This is a wonderful novel, set on an island in Lake Ontario, Canada. It follows the story of Sylvia (a woman with what is described as a 'condition' but either is a form of autism or just a personality trait that has been labelled by others to control her) as she aims to find out what happened to her lover, Andrew, who was found dead in the Lake. Sylvia meets with Jerome the young man who found Andrew and together they delve into the past.

Jane Urquhart beautifully evokes the landscape of the are
Nov 22, 2011 Rosana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reads, canadian, 2011
Definitely there is a thing as “the right book at the right time”. This a second read for me. Alas, I didn’t write a review for it the first time around, although I did give it 4 stars. This time I am upgrading it to 5 stars though.

I re-read it for my bookclub, and I confess that I had not retained much of it from the first time, albeit the 4 stars it had faded out of my memory. But this time I was struck by Jane Urquhart’s poetic descriptions of landscapes and characters.

I did read some of the
Apr 27, 2014 Mag rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As all Urquhart’s fiction I have read so far, this book is set in southwestern Ontario, and intertwines two stories: one from the past and one from the present. The story revolves around Sylvia Bradley, a fifty three year old woman who suffers from an unnamed disorder resembling autism to some extent. She is the intermediary between the two stories: that of her lover and his family and that of the man who found her lover frozen to death on one of the small, abandoned islands on Lake Ontario.

If y
Fran Fisher
Jane Urquhart is an amazing author. She can take the days, the long slow days of winter, or the boredom and loneliness that can be an endless summer afternoon, and, while retaining their emptiness, make them whole and special for the reader. She is so very sensitive that it would not surprise me to find that she is allergic to everything beyond the desk where she produces her work.

The story is simple and private, the scenery compelling, with a history of its own, and the writing superb. I would
Alumine Andrew
Apr 15, 2015 Alumine Andrew rated it it was amazing
I think I loved this book first because of it's cover. Yes, the cover art made all the difference! The cover is an old black and white photograph of a woman in long skirt, blouse and straw hat fishing on the banks of a wild river.

This is the story of maps, rivers, forests, pioneers and art. The story is set in the wilds of Canada where a family of pioneers owns great tracts of land and forests. They develop an industry around deforestation and supplying logs for the emerging country's cities. T
Mar 04, 2014 Dorothy rated it liked it
I found this to be a very melancholy book. There is a story within a story and it begins with the childhood of the main character, Sylvia who is the daughter of the local doctor. Sylvia is not a typical child....presumably she would be diagnosed as "on the Autism Spectrum" today but her family refer to her as having a "condition". She marries her father's partner who is a rather bloodless man who wishes to take care of her and one gets the impression that he is her Jailer rather than a husband.

Jul 07, 2015 Gloria rated it liked it
This book seems to be written for book club discussions. Themes abound here - history, nature, spiritualism, the senses, art in all its forms, psychology, relationships, blurred lines between reality and imagined life. My mind was in a bit of a whirl at times. The prose is beautiful but the story it tells is not for everyone. Sylvia Bradley is sheltered from the world, first by her parents and then by her husband, but then she meets Andrew Woodman. The subsequent affair is revealed years later t ...more
Jun 21, 2014 Debra rated it liked it
Jerome McNaughton is photographing the landscape on a small, remote island at the northeast end of Lake Ontario when he discovers a body partially embedded in a large chunk of ice floating toward the shore. He has no idea how the elderly man wound up in this state, until months later when a middle-aged woman named Sylvia knocks on his door. Sylvia knew the victim, Andrew Woodman, intimately. As she tells Jerome about Andrew and the Woodman family history, the story leaves an impact that neither ...more
Feb 27, 2014 Sarah marked it as unfinished

However lovely, contemporary prose just doesn't do it for me. Give me an impressionist glance around the room and a bright, blooming swell of internality. So many of these contemporary authors just describe the room...and describe the room...and describe the room. Unless it's Anna Pavlova's room, I can't be bothered!

Sorry, book.
Terry Tschann Skelton
I didn't want this book to end. That doesn't happen to me often and it's a bittersweet pleasure. I loved inhabiting Sylvia's mind. Her focus on the details of her environment has made me slow down and observe my own surroundings more consciously. The pace of the narrative is indeed slow, but it reflects Sylvia's thoughts, it seems to me. The theme of man's impact on his environment and the environment's impact on human beings is especially relevant these days. I was also taken with the contrast ...more
Paul Barton
Sylvia suffers from a mental condition which is unspecified but which sounds like a combination of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and agoraphobia. She is in a platonic marriage but we learn she had a long term affair with a man, Andrew, who looked past her disabilities and saw the real her.

Eventually he suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and disappeared. Sylvia read in a newspaper that his body was found entombed in ice on an Island in Lake Ontario. She tracks down the young man, an earth artist,
Roger Brunyate
Aug 24, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, place-portraits
Walking Toward the Past

This wondrous and evocative novel begins with a man walking over the ice to a distant island. He is so stricken with Alzheimer's that he cannot even remember his own name, Andrew, but the four pages in which Jane Urquhart describes his situation are almost poetry:
The whole unnamed world is so beautiful to him now that he is aware he has left behind vast, unremembered territories, certain faces, and a full orchestra of sounds that he has loved.
He is walking, as one of the o
Sep 15, 2009 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at a talk and reading given by the author, who was explaining some of the history of Northumberland and Prince Edward Counties in Ontario - her childhood home and my present one. Her interest in place and architecture was the theme of that presentation.

Place and architecture also seems to predominate in this book. It tells the story of a withdrawn middle-aged woman, Sylvia, married to a doctor who treats her more as an interesting patient than a wife, and of her supposed lo
Jul 23, 2009 Basha1971 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it
This is the fourth novel by Jane Urquart that I have read, and once again I am impressed with her beautiful evocotive prose. I was drawn in immediately to the Canadian landscape in particular as well as into the lives of the people who inhabit it.

Sylvia is a middle aged woman, married to a country doctor and living in the house she grew up in. She has what is referred to by everyone as a “condition” although what it is, is never specified, she cannot stand to be touched, she seems to see the wor
Shonna Froebel
Nov 15, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
This story has a tale in the present and a tale in the past that are related to each other.
In the present Sylvia Bradley married her father's medical partner, Malcolm, who thinks she has a "condition" and treats her carefully in response to this. Sylvia met another man, Andrew Woodman, a historical geographer. He connected with her in a way that changed her world. A year after Andrew's death, Sylvia works up the courage to leave her community for the city and meet with Jerome McNaughton, the you
Jane Urquhart führt mehrere außergewöhnliche Menschen zusammen, die Landkarten anfertigen. Da ist zunächst der Künstler Jerome, der sich allein auf der im Winter verlassenen Insel Timber Island im St. Lorenz-Strom absetzen lässt, um dort mit Fotos die Vergänglichkeit der Welt am Verfall verlassener Gebäude zu dokumentieren. Eine veraltete Form der Landschaftserkundung würden Jeromes Künstlerkollegen seinen Plan nennen. Timber Island liegt am Übergang des Ontariosees in den St. Lorenz-Fluss
Mar 02, 2012 Leslie rated it did not like it
If I could give this book 0 stars I would. I am not one who often gives up on books, and I am typically even less discerning when listening to books on cd. I can overlook some poor writing if the story is good, but after trudging my way through three of eight discs, I am setting this one aside. After listening to the first 6 tracks, I realized that I had no idea what was going on, but I pushed on thinking maybe my mind had just wondered and I would pick it up as I went. It did not improve. I fou ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Valerie rated it liked it
This book is a challenge to get into. The main character is hard to connect to, and she probably has Ashberger's to some degree. Her tale of her lover is intriguing but is it true? It must be, right? ? The books main charm is the historic recreation of the area around Picton, On in the early 19 and 20th centuries. I had to put this down for years before finally being able to get through it this time, at the urging of my brother. It's done, now.
Aug 18, 2013 Heather(Gibby) rated it it was ok
This is a book which takes place primariy on a small island on Lake Ontario. It has been describes as being topographically beautiful. I found that although the writing is quite good, the book spends way too much time describing the settings, and not enough time developing the characters. It got really boring with some long descriptive paragraphs, that I woud lfind my self skimming, and then realize there must have been one sentence in there that advanced the plot that I missed, then have to go ...more
Brice Skylar
Aug 28, 2015 Brice Skylar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book time and time again, but was never able to commit to it until this month. I was always interested but the shifts in time always pulled me away from it somehow. I am glad I finally settled into it because once I did it was breathtakingly beautiful.
Barb Heart
I have mixed feelings --- intrigued because I have been to Kingston & St Lawrence Seaway -- my French Canadian ancestors settled just south of Montreal in Iberville. Wanted to get an understanding of what & how things happened in the earlier times. This book gave me a lot of that yet I was often confused. In the last section -- ...... I became very sad, for everyone involved.
This is actually a combination of two stories. It was very intriguing the way the author brought the whole book together. However, at the end I was left with a few questions about a certain character. This would be a good book for a discussion group.
I have a bit of a mixed reaction to this book. Sometimes I really liked it, sometimes I didn't. I'm afraid I didn't really care much for any of the characters. The women were all a bit melodramatic or weak, or both (except for Mira who didn't get much development and Julia who got no actual screen time). The men were all a bit insufferable. I did enjoy the basic setup and the two parallel stories, but was disappointed by the meaninglessness of it all. The descriptions of Timber Island and the la ...more
Theryn Fleming
In a nutshell: A Map of Glass was a pleasant (perhaps I should say pleasurable), but unsatisfying, read. It was pleasant/pleasurable while I was reading because Jane Urquhart is a lovely writer at the sentence level. The story just sort of washes over you. It's cozy and delicious. Like curling up with a blanket and hot tea—and a book, of course—on the sofa.

I think the parts dealing with Andrew losing his memory are the strength of A Map of Glass—and by extension, the linking of this personal/tot
Sandra Woods
Jan 04, 2014 Sandra Woods rated it it was ok
I'd decided to read a few Canadian authors after Canada Day, and had wanted to read this one for quite a while; it's set near what's now Sandbanks Provincial Park in Ontario, an area dear to my heart. Unfortunately, this book wasn't. Dear to my heart. This narrative-style novel was so disjointed that I had to put it aside and read something else part-way through, which doesn't happen very often for me. I was very disappointed, but have heard that the Stone Carvers is excellent so may still read ...more

I'm very conflicted.

The writing is so beautiful, so moving, so powerful. I got shivers sometimes.

There are some interesting concepts, Sylvia's "condition", the nature of memory, and the nature of who we are based on our memory. Definitely some philosophical meanings are explored. And the metaphor through artist references is beautiful but the characters in the plot aren't engaging enough. It wasn't interesting in a practical sense, making it a slow, harder read at some points of the novel.

I f
Other than the fact that this edition had pages missing and some pages
duplicated I was able to get the gist of the book & enjoyed the story and
writing style.
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She is the author of seven internationally acclaimed novels entitled, The Whirlpool, Changing Heaven, Away, The Underpainter, The Stone Carvers, A Map of Glass, and Sanctuary Line.

The Whirlpool received the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Award). Away was winner of the Trillium Book Award and a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The Un
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