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Through a Glass Darkly (Through a Glass Darkly #2)

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  9,470 Ratings  ·  789 Reviews
A magnificent tapestry of
a grand and glorious era

As opulent and passionate as the 18th century it celebrates. Through a Glass Darkly will sweep you away to the splendors of a lost era. Like Gone with the Wind, it is rich with characters so vivid -- from aristocrats to scoundrels -- they create their own immortality. Here is the story of a great family ruled by a dowager o
Paperback, 755 pages
Published September 1st 1987 by Avon (first published 1986)
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Mary Buras-Conway I loved this book. Also Dark Angels, Before Versailles, and Now Face to Face. I didn't find it confusing in the least but I also love history. Karleen…moreI loved this book. Also Dark Angels, Before Versailles, and Now Face to Face. I didn't find it confusing in the least but I also love history. Karleen I have to say you did everything justice. The writing and the research. I simply fell for your characters. I really liked how you put a humane face to Louis XIV in before Versailles. I wait impatiently for your next book.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jenny Brown
Jun 17, 2012 Jenny Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seeing the various 1 and 2 star reviews for this brilliant novel and its sequel, Now Face to Face, confirms me in the belief, growing over the past year, that a certain proportion of today's readers are so poorly educated and emotionally blunted that great historical fiction is completely wasted on them.

I found the characters in these novels were richly crafted, well rounded people who lived within the beliefs and culture of their time, rather than modern day people plopped into the middle of so
May 18, 2008 K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: patient fans of historical romance a la Philippa Gregory
Recommended to K by: Yaffi
After some grappling and soul-searching, I have finally decided not to finish this book. As Karen said in her review, there's nothing wrong with indulging in a trashy novel occasionally, but 750 pages is a big investment for trash.

This book reminded me of some of the Philippa Gregory books I've tried to read and abandoned, although I did find the characters here slightly more interesting. Barbara, a beautiful (how could she not be?), headstrong (naturally) 15-year-old is engaged to 40-something
“When I was a child I spake as a child. I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I become a man I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face”

Through a Glass Darkly is the second in a three book series set in Georgian England. Barbara is the granddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Tamworth and she and her younger siblings were raised by their grandparents instead of their parents Kit and Diana Alderley. Kit is an exiled Jacobite involve
Sep 07, 2007 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this first 20 years ago (yes, I am that old). And I remembered it so fondly because I was in France at the time and this was one of the few novels in English that I read while I was there. It was such a relaxing way to spend a day at the beach, doubly so because all the rest of the time I was there I was having to work in my second language, which I wasn't nearly so strong in. So, I reread it and it was a very different experience this time. It's still a really fun and well-written novel, ...more
Dec 05, 2008 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers
Recommended to Emily by: the shelves that constantly had it on sale in every used booksto
This was a surprisingly absorbing read. I'm still a bit stressed, so I've been binging on historical fiction (I even ordered my first Heyer novels).

Koen's novel is sprightly told and competently researched. It mixes historical figures into the narrative fairly well (though they aren't nearly as captivating as the main characters or the actual historical figures they are based upon). I'm debating between a two and a three star. On one hand, when I think on it, it doesn't seems to be a particular
Amy Bruno
Dec 10, 2008 Amy Bruno rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had been on my TBR pile for quite some time before I plucked it off my shelf and boy, am I glad that I did! This is one of the books that when you read it, you could just kick yourself in the shin for not reading it sooner! I LOVE drama and this book did not disappoint.

Through a Glass Darkly is a novel about Barbara Alderley and is set in England and France in the early 18th century. Barbara and her siblings were raised by her grandmother, the Duchess of Tamworth. Her mother, Diana, be
Jul 28, 2008 Chennijen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: silly chits
Have you ever come across one of those books in which the main protagonist starts out being beautiful, brave, short, all that is admirable in a person...and then, about 50 pages in, said protagonist becomes the brattiest, whiniest, dumbest little kid you've had the misfortune of coming across in the last 20 books you've read? This is what happened to me with this book. I read a summary of the work somewhere and thought that it aspired to be much more than a trashy historical rom ...more
Through a glass darkly, by Karleen Koen, is a profoundly depressing, gorgeously written, turbulent and epic historical fiction set in the beginning of the 18th century in England and France. This story will rip your heart out so beware, before you dive in.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child.

In the beginning of this novel, we meet fifteen year old Barbara Alderley, the cherished grandchild of illustrious English nobility, the Duke and Duchess of T
I loved the first two thirds of this book. Set in and around the English and French courts of 1715/16, it’s a real romp of a read with snobs, bitches, dandies, bawdiness, double dealings, betrayals, scandals, duels, crazy wigs and pots and pots of rouge.

The story may centre around the marriage of 15 year old Barbara to the much older and wealthier Roger, but it’s her mother Diana, the beautiful, slutty, scheming daughter of the Duchess of Tamworth, who’s the early scene stealer, as she screams,
Aug 05, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Someone called this a "bodice ripper" in another review. Hm -- I think that person needs to read an actual bodice ripper and then think again. I read this on my honeymoon in 1995. It was a book I picked up by chance (I remembered the huge advance Koen got) and I am vey glad I did. It's just a great read with interesting characters and great settings. It's a book I will take on vacation for a reread.
Jan 24, 2011 Denise rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jana Brown
I am apparently in the middle of a bunch of 'not as good as I wanted it to be' books. I got this as a free ebook and picked it up out of curiosity, looking for a Georgette Heyer type read. Light and romantic with the historical backdrop and some good characters. This thing is a 671 page monster and from the get go it slogs. The descriptions are over the top and often drag out for pages when it's not necessary, which is a shame because there are some focused descriptions which were lovely and mad ...more
Rachel Crooks
When a book written about the year 1715 has a character blurting, "I shall be right back," you know you are about to get a mixed bag of history and modern culture. "Being right back" was not a phrase that the 18th century was in any way familiar with. The book was peppered with these little modern colloquialisms - not enough to cause me to stop reading, exactly, but enough to pull me out of the illusion of the past. It makes me think of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, the scene in which Elizabeth ...more
This was both very good and very disappointing at the same time. I couldn't put it down, but neither did it give me happy, cheerful feelings.
This is the story of the maturing of a young girl, Barbara, in 18th century England. She has a passionate loving nature and though of the upper class, does not always abide by the typical conventions and standards all the time. All her life she has been distantly in love with a man who served her very famous grandfather, and one day, her very selfish and br
DNF, pg 120-something.

I just don't care, y'all.

Clearly the author wanted to write a more readable style than, say, Here Be Dragons -- except this book contains that same toxic mixture of slow plotting, epic infodumps, & As You Know Bob conversations, which ruins any melodramatic flow. Barbara is a sappy, uninteresting heroine & Diana is so OTT that she's one step above a Scooby Doo villain. Sometimes OTT can cut a swathe of awesome through family sagas, but not this time. NOTHING HAPPENS
When I first read this, I was 13 and loved the huge secret surrounding Roger and the sex and all the twagedy and dwama. It was a solid 5 stars. Then I re-read it (or tried to, rather) about 15 years later and was bored out of my skull. Don't know what happened in the meantime, but it's one of those books that probably should have stayed on my shelf and let memories suffice. Even before I re-read this, I had never gotten around to read Now Face to Face, and after this disappointing experience, bo ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Annette rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, 1700
What a horrible, nasty book this has been and I couldn't put it down. Now my tissue box is empty and my face is swollen.

The book I have, must be a size 4 font. My eyes are not what they use to be, so I've struggled to read this over the past week or so. As with many long book (755 pages of tiny print) it takes time to figure out who each character is, as there are an abundance of them. The reading can go slowly as I'm figuring out relatives and friends, and each position they hold to the main ch
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 24, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No One
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
This committed the worse sin for a book--it bored me. What's more, not in a this-is-a-slog dense, difficult read but possibly worth it way. More in a this-reads-like-a-trashy-book-but-nothing-is-happening way. The writing is sloppy in its point of view, with head-hopping within a narrative that isn't really omniscient, and I noted clutzy dialogue tagging, far too many exclamation points, cliched phrasing and frequent typos.

Now, these are common defects in popular fiction I'm willing to overlook
Aug 19, 2010 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves historical fiction/romance novels
Shelves: favorites
Upon closing this novel I knew, almost immediately, that it had set the bar for every other historical fiction piece I'd read from then on. I was a bit intimidated when I first purchased Through A Glass Darkly because of its size, however once I started reading it I knew I was going to enjoy myself and the length wouldn't be a problem.

I found Koen's writing style in this book to be very much to my liking. She was descriptive without being overbearing and I felt like I could literally see everyth
Richly Detailed, Slightly Melodramatic...and Spicy
I'm rounding up from 3.5 stars

I found 'Through a Glass Darkly' to be an engaging well paced story with likeable characters woven into a rich fabric of English traditions, mores, fashion and sexual intrigues.

I would have liked Karleen Koen to focus on a few of my favorite characters a little more but over all I thought it was an enjoyable and easy read.

The setting, England and France from 1715 until the early 1720s includes the conflicts betwe
Jun 01, 2012 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like 3.5 stars, even though it had excellent plotting and character development. (Having recently immersed myself in the The Life of Samuel Johnson,The Diary Of Samuel Pepys and Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, I can confirm that Koen got the spirit of the times just about right.) Well-researched, if maybe too heavy on the descriptions of clothes, houses and gardens.

Unnecessarily pornographic.

While Koen's major characters are anachronistically twenty-first century, she does a good job at
Mishelle LaBrash
**********IT'S LIKE NOTHING I'VE EVER READ BEFORE*****************

Seriously, an amazing and evocative novel brimming with passion, betrayal, love, heartbreak, sorrow, jealousy, friendship, and those family ties that bind, all neatly packaged in it's historical element.

This epic tomb, is not for the faint at heart. I would encourage all whom plan to take this journey, to go in with an open mind, abandoning any pre-concieved ideas of love at what it all means.

In a time where the nobility ruled,
Aug 19, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
Glancing through some of the reviews below, I'm shocked that so many readers are rating this novel low and labeling it as a bodice-ripper. Nothing could be further from the truth. I tend to favor historical novels that feature real historical characters, and this one does not. However, the emotional lives of these characters are so richly realized, that it didn't matter. A reader below commented that the heroine, Barbara Alderley, reminded her somewhat of Scarlett O'Hara. This comparison would n ...more
Ultimately a very sad book chronicling the life of Barbara Aderly of the Tamworth family in early 18th century Britain. Her family is destitute thanks to her parent's misuse of money and her father's traitorous activities. Still, Barbara is a young, enthusiastic girl of 15 at the start of the book and is thrilled when a marriage is arranged to a family friend who she has "loved" since she was an even younger girl...despite the fact that he is 45. Eventually factors all come together - her conniv ...more
Sarah Brocious
Mar 13, 2015 Sarah Brocious rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guilty-pleasure
Really liked this read...made for a lovely escape!
Feb 05, 2008 Ashley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ashley by: Jamie
"Through a Glass Darkly" brings 18th century Europe to life. Full of intrigue, love, lust, life, and death, it never stops entertaining. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will love this book.
Aug 09, 2012 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yummy-history, owned
From the viewpoint of historical fiction; this is some really good stuff. Set during the politically tumultuous time of the change from the House of Stewart to the House of Hanover in the British monarchy; this was an era of intrigue, rebellion, betrayal and retribution. The political maneuverings in this book are substantial and fascinating.

So there is a romance involved; I will admit that I don't read romance novels but I don't let romance get in the way of a good historical novel. Poor young
Julie Christine
Heaps of raucous, costume drama fun. Koen brings to sparkling life early 18th century London and Paris- the debauchery, the plotting, the wasted lives of the wealthy and the pitiful existence of the poor. Her characters, with their powdered wigs, their rouged cheeks, silk breeches and low-cut gowns, simper and scheme their way through royal courts, whorehouses, and country estates looking for tactical advantage in marriage, love affairs, and friendship, with little thought to lasting love and co ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 03, 2012 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I usually love the historical fiction/romance genre, but this book was a big fat disappointment. I'm glad I didn't pay for it or I would've been really disappointed. I thought the writing was sloppy and disjointed, and the book didn't flow well at all. The narrative was confusing; Koen uses some strange cross breed of first and third person point of view that it so convoluted it's hard to follow. Not only that, Koen uses this strange point of view with just about every character that has dialogu ...more
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I wish I could write like Karleen Koen 1 8 Feb 28, 2016 08:43PM  
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My childhood was filled with glorious books, Little Women, Lad A Dog, Black Beauty, Little House on the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn. They were as real to me as the life around me, a lower middle class one in a small oil refinery town in Texas. My grandfather, an invalid, was a huge fan of the writers Frank Slaughter, Frank Yerby, and Zane Grey. By the time I learned to read, I was sneaking his square ...more
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“...she had begun to learn that success was sometimes simply a matter of having the courage to proceed in the direction of one's dreams.” 12 likes
“When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child but when I grew up I put away childish things; for now we see through a glass darkly but then face to face!” 8 likes
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