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The Glimmer Palace

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  1,439 Ratings  ·  226 Reviews
In the tradition of Michel Faber and Sarah Waters, a literary historical novel about an orphan girl's journey from poverty to film stardom, set against the grand backdrop of World War I Berlin, the cabaret era, the run-up to World War II, and the innovations in art and industry that accompanied it all.

Big, rich, intelligent, and masterfully written, here is a page-turning
Hardcover, 1st, 416 pages
Published July 24th 2008 by Riverhead Hardcover
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Mar 25, 2009 Cobber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hope this book gets made into a film. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did but the author made it so authentic. The sense of atmosphere she creates sends shivers down my spine at how well it was done. A perfect book that I didn't want to end. The main character was really easy to relate to and being set in wartime it added so much tension to proceedings. Really worth a read if you're looking for something different.
I liked this book but it didn't blow me away.

I was intrigued by the 'look behind the mirror' offered by this story - history, as we know, is written by the victors so it was illuminating to see WW1&2 from a German perspective. It was dark and brooding and full of atmosphere and I loved the characters and found them deep and well rounded.

The reason I haven't scored this book higher than a 3 is that there were a few points within the story that I was desperate to know more historical backgroun
Jan 23, 2009 Teresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to enjoy this novel - the whole premise appealed to me, the decadence of pre-war Berlin, the energy of the emerging German film industry set alongside the insidious menace of the Nazi Party seemed an intriguing combination. Indeed, this aspect of the novel is adroitly handled by the author thanks to her assiduous research. Berlin ended up being the most interesting character for me and you really feel its presence as a living, everchanging force, one minute full of gaiety and the ...more
Nov 18, 2015 MAP rated it it was ok
The original title of this book was "The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite" but I can see why it was changed -- there is nothing luminous about either the book or the character. The novel follows Lilly from her birth in 1900 Germany through the 1930s - and we experience every single second of it.

This book has a LOT of flaws that kept me from becoming engaged in it. The writing style is bizarre - we often go down little plot cul-de-sacs with characters we'll never see again, and there's an abundan
Mar 02, 2009 Gerund rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
THE Luminous Life Of Lilly Aphrodite (titled The Glimmer Palace in the American edition) is the dramatic, film adaption-ready story of the life of a fictional German orphan girl turned movie star in early 20th century Berlin.

More than just a rags-to-riches tale, it also traces the development of the German film industry, which was once one of the largest and most innovative in the world.

And more impressively, the novel aims to convey the ethos of Berlin during one of the city's most vibrant, des
Dec 25, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
I can't exactly pinpoint why I didn't much care for this book. It was overwritten, but so are a lot of early twentieth-century historical fiction books, and this one had some pretty good moments. It's not as ambitious or poignant as it tries to be, but it manages to be pretty interesting.

Must be the characters, I guess. I am so sick of the neglected orphan girl with the ethereal beauty and the quiet but somehow wildly entrancing presence. Can someone please write about an ugly orphan girl? Who
Sep 04, 2008 Carey rated it really liked it
In the first few minutes of the year 1900 Lilly Nelly Aphrodite is born in Berlin, Germany. Her mother is a volatile, unmarried cabaret performer. By the time Lilly is two her parents are dead and she is placed in an orphanage where she will remain until she is in her early teens. Lily does not make friends easily and it is not until the age of about twelve when she makes the one friend who will remain a part of her life in the future, Hanne Schmidt.

Hanne is a new arrival at the orphanage and is
Sep 20, 2011 Virginia rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best historical fiction books I have ever read. With a WWI Berlin background it weaves a fascinating story of an orphan who eventually becomes a movie star. The characters are very interesting and the plot is riveting. It kept me guessing right up to the end and it just seemed so real that I really had to keep reminding myself it was fiction. The war and its after effects are always in the background, but this novel deals with the German people and how politics affected them n ...more
The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite was recommended to us by Dave's daughter Carrie. He bought it for his Kindle account which I can access via Amazon's newish Sharing programme. Like Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Lilly is born at the beginning of a new era - in her case the beginning of the 20th century. Through her eyes, we see the desperate poverty suffered by many people in Germany in the period from 1900 until the end of the Second World War. Another of my recent reads, Life After ...more
Nov 13, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites-2012
Lilly's story is a classic Bildungsroman as the reader follows her from the day of her birth, through her childhood and beyond. Throughout the novel Colin weaves in elements of the history of the period to contextualise the things that are happening in Lilly's life and with a particular interest in this period and having studied it previously, I really enjoyed this. As Colin mentioned the Wall Street Crash and the Beer Hall Putsch and other historic events which had huge impacts on the lives of ...more
Simay Yildiz
Jan 02, 2011 Simay Yildiz rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Simay by: daisychainbooks
Shelves: favorites, historical
This book was a great finish to 2010. It takes place in 20th century Germany and has a lot of historical content as well as a lot of personal stories. The main character is Lilly Nelly Aphrodite, whom we follow throughout the book, starting from the day she was born. I can sum it up like this: she grows up in an orphanage, then she has to leave when the orphanage is closed down, and then she becomes a movie star. And, of course, there are quite a bit of people who walk in and out of her life alo ...more
Dec 19, 2012 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in Berlin, the life story of Lilly Aphrodite is told against the backdrop of the social and political change that is shaping Germany between 1900 and the prelude to WWII.

Beatric Coline deftly weaves a world so thick with personality the characters positively clamour across the page to tell their story. Told in the omnipotent third person, there are places which coudl jar as the narrator, in a God-like fashion, explains the outcome of minor characters whilst they still cavort before us. This
The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is, as a the title suggests, a fictional summing up of the life of Lilly Nelly Aphrodite, born in Berlin at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1899, and destined for great things. Beatrice Colin's ambitious attempt to tell the history of German cinema (and indeed, of Berlin itself) through Lilly's life falls short. The novel might surmount the author's tendency towards lengthy (and sometimes factually inaccurate) digressions into German history (to give j ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Blair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled with this a bit at the beginning but went on to discover that it is in fact a fantastic read - very atmospheric and assiduously well-researched, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is even remotely interested in the history and culture of Germany (specifically the city of Berlin). Although I found the author's use of language captivating from the start, my main issue with the early part of the book was that I found it very hard to accept that so many grown ...more
Siobhán Eloise ✿
I absolutely fell in L O V E with this book, the whole concept of it kept me hooked until the very end. It is one of those books that when you pick it up you just can't seem to put it back down again, I ended up reading it within 9 hours.

It's about an orphan called Lilly who we see develop throughout the book to become a thriving young lady in the busniess of film which in Germany 1930's/40's were a massive success with bringing about fresh new supporters of the Nazi party. As it's set in Berli
Jun 14, 2010 Abby rated it liked it
Recommended to Abby by: Alison
Lilly Nelly Aphrodite, born at the last stroke of midnight on 12/31/1899 in Germany, and orphaned soon after, comes of age during the birth of German cinema, the devastation of WWI, the economic collapse that follows, the highs and lows of WWII until she eventually disappears into history.

Why I Picked it Up:
Recommended to be me by Alison C, it again came from the depth of the TBR. The German cinemagraphic history was interesting, though it was hard to tell which was the focus: the Lilly's story
Jul 20, 2012 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Hannah by: Simay Yildiz
This is one of those books where I fall completely in love with it, give it 5 stars, yet still want to scream FUCK THIS BOOK. This book was beautiful, stunning, and above all, HEARTBREAKING. And sad. So much sadness. The writing is, as I said, stunning. The descriptions of that era, of WWI and the lead-up to WWII, the suffering, the lifestyles and struggles, the beauty, the ugliness, everything. It's lyrical, magical, perfect. Well, almost. That ending. I cannot not forgive it....yet, how else c ...more
Glorianne Roccanova
Oct 23, 2012 Glorianne Roccanova rated it really liked it
just started to read it....getting a feel for the know the people who the story is about.....little lil, my foot....
listen so by now you know i am not big on spelling.....anyhoo,......i liked this book very much, you can feel the tension even more as the book sinks in and you go over parts of it in your mind.....self discussion if no one esle is around.....i think of the chilling way that hanne died, and a way to go.....did that really happen to som
Sep 11, 2009 Valerie rated it it was amazing
This was a gorgeous and devastating book. The advertised material makes this novel sound like a fun romp. However, it takes place in Germany at the turn of the 20th century and travels through the life of its protagonist into Hitler's rise. I knew little about the travails that lead to the power of the Nazi's. I recommend this book with the caveat that there was much sadness and depravity in this history and you must be prepared to read about how that translated into the life of a child without ...more
Sep 23, 2009 Tracey rated it it was amazing
I loved this wonderful tale of the life of a Berlin orphan and her rise to movie stardom. Set mainly between the two World Wars, the story also provides a fascinating insight into life in Berlin in those times, the poverty, the debauchery and the rise of the Nazis. The historical detail is enlightening and the characters engaging. I could barely put it down. I would heartily recommend this novel to all lovers of quality fiction.
Oct 26, 2011 Mollie rated it really liked it
This novel is set in Berlin from 1900 to the rise of Hitler. It's told through the eyes of Lilly Nellie Aphrodite, an orphan who becomes a major film star. That's the simple story. The real story is the life she leads with the changes of Berlin, Germany and the world through two world wars, the rise of cinema in Hollywood and Germany, and her personal life. Sadly, it's believable. People really endured through those times and lived and loved as the world went crazy...twice.
Jan 28, 2014 Paula rated it really liked it
LOVED this book! What a lovely surprise - I don't even recall where I got it - garage sale? Book sale? Anyway, very enjoyable piece of historical fiction set in early 20th century Germany. Not a happy book by any means, but really nicely developed main character & solid storylines.

The ending did leave me a tiny bit empty - what happened with her, Ilya, Stefan...
Missy Cahill
Aug 08, 2011 Missy Cahill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely beautiful gem of a book. I adored it, felt a wee bit let down by the end of the book but thats not the point. Fantastically written with interesting characters and a lovely background. I cant recommend this book enough, though im so curious as to the fate of the characters. Guess we'll never know!
Mari Ewart
Feb 10, 2010 Mari Ewart rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction about an orphan in World War 1 and her survival and success as a film star in Hitler's Germany. I finished this one with absolute astonishment about how a Germany so decimated in the first World War could deliberately start another one.
Jul 11, 2010 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great novel - not only is the subject matter fascinating, but Beatrice Colin has a unique way with words. Definitely an author to watch out for.
Nov 14, 2010 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutley loved this book.
Kept me reading long into the night. Tragically romantic and sad. One womans struggle through world war 2 in Berlin.
Highly recommended.
Colleen Lynch
Jul 04, 2010 Colleen Lynch rated it really liked it
My sister gave me this book and I was skeptical but I ended up loving it. I can't say exactly why, but I can recommend it - and I definitely do.
Dec 04, 2014 Charl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In short: a tale of one woman’s life which spans across decades of intense political, social and economic change in the bustling city of Berlin.

Firstly, the blurb is a little disingenuous. It makes the story sound incredibly whimsical, romance-based and relatively light-hearted, when in reality this book is far from fluffy and upbeat.

This is certainly an ambitious undertaking: a book set during moments of historical significance, intertwining real events with the fictional life of an orphan tur
Judy Abbott
Tam bir melodram. Bir kızın başına gelebilecek herşey Lilly'nin başına geldi. 1900'den 1935 senesine kadar Berlin atmosferi, savaş ve nazilerin gelişi çok müthiş anlatılmış. Ama Lilly'nin başına gelenler "yeter" dedirtti.
Jan 30, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kind of surprised to see how bad some of the reviews for this are, as I enjoyed it a lot. I'm trying to be more sparing with my five-star ratings (I'm quite generous with my ratings tbh) but couldn't think of anything I disliked about this enough to knock off a star. It was a page-turner. Oh yeah, it's also been published as The Glimmer Palace, I guess because The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is a bit of a mouthful. I found it lurking in a discount book place for a couple of quid and, never ...more
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I'm a novelist/radio dramatist. I've written seven novels (two for children) and numerous plays for BBC Radio 4.

My new novel, To Capture What We Cannot Keep is published in late 2016/early 2017.

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“But that night, the future was still blank. The film had not been shot, the bromide was still in its brown glass bottle. Nothing had been fixed.” 0 likes
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