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The Glass-Blowers

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  1,147 ratings  ·  77 reviews
"Perhaps we shall not see each other again. I will write to you, though, and tell you, as best I can, the story of your family. A glass-blower, remember, breathes life into a vessel, giving it shape and form and sometimes beauty; but he can with that same breath, shatter and destroy it." Faithful to her word, Sophie Duval reveals to her long-lost nephew the tragic story of ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 384 pages
Published January 1st 1983 by Virago Press Ltd (first published 1963)
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In The Glass-Blowers, Daphne du Maurier explores her French family background through historical fiction, much as she did for another branch of her family in Mary Anne. In this novel, the stormy backdrop is the French Revolution. Du Maurier’s forbears, the Bussons (du Maurier was later added as an affectation by one of the brothers), were a family of master craftsmen in the art of glassblowing.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Glass Blowing

Glassblowing, of course, is an apt metaphor for the Revolution itself. “Con

Daphne du Maurier ventured into family history with Mary Anne and she did it again in this work. Whereas Mary Anne is a fictionalised account of the life of her English great-great-grandmother Mary Anne Clarke, the mistress of the Duke of York, this novel touches on the story of du Maurier's French ancestor Robert Busson, a master glass maker who emigrated to England around the time of the French Revolution in order to avoid imprisonment for debt. In England he styled himself "du Maurier" (after
"Somehow, we no longer seemed to preach the brotherhood of man"

In this book du Maurier recounts the tale of her forebears, the Busson family of master glass-blowers leading up to and through the French Revolution. Told through the POV of Sophie as she looks back on her life, daughter of master glass-blower Mathurin Busson and his formidable (in a good way) wife Magdaleine and her siblings Robert, Pierre, Michel and Edmé. For Robert, the eldest working his craft in the countryside is not enough a

I found this historical fiction based on du Mauriers French ancestors at the time of the French Revolution a flat, bland, albeit well written, recitation of what happened with very little of the personal about it, or any sense of people or place. It was less than engaging, hard to care about the characters and easy to put down. Not one of Du Mauriers better efforts but having said that, even a mediocre du Maurier is better than some other author's best efforts.

Buddy read with Kim :-).
In The Glass-Blowers, du Maurier reaches into her own historical background, as she did with Mary Anne, to tell a story of a family of glass workers during the French Revolution. Unfortunately, also as with Mary Anne, although she tells an interesting story, she fails to make it emotionally engaging. The characters are often flat, even the narrator, and even the atmosphere and the sense of place, usually a strong point for du Maurier, aren't compelling. The story was just interesting enough for ...more
Du Maurier writes this novel about her French ancestors. She descended from a family of master craftsmen in the art of glass blowing. The story is told by one of the children as she approaches the end of her life. This character writes the family history for a part of the family that had been separated and was unaware of the family drama. Set before, during and after the years of the French Revolution, du Maurier tells the story from the viewpoint of this French woman who was not a fanatic Revol ...more
Abigail Hartman
I can think of a great many periods in history I prefer to the French Revolution, and a great many events I would rather live through if a time-traveler put a gun to my head and demanded I choose. However, having found this novel at a bookshop (yay, du Maurier!) and being part of the way through Tom Reiss' The Black Count, I decided to dive straight into it. It is certainly nothing like Rebecca; it has none of the suspense or the brooding gothic flavor. It is, rather, the story of du Maurier's o ...more
I am a huge fan of Daphnie du Maurier, and so maybe I already had my mind made up that I would love this book, or maybe it's becuase it is an historic novel, which I love. But the fact that is actually about her own heritage was even more compelling. After reading The Hidden Diary of Marie Antionette A Novel, and learning more about the behavior of the French aristocacy, this book is written from the other side of the fence, from the point of view of the merchants and craftsmen, trying to surviv ...more
Daphne du Maurier used her own ancestry to write this historical fiction. She tells the story of her forebears, the Busson family who were glass-blowers during the French Revolution. I was really excited by the idea - using your own family's history to tell an engaging story. But I wasn't all that engaged.

I found the history itself more interesting than the characters, which seems to be a bad trend I'm finding myself in right now with the books I've been reading. The first part of the story actu
Initially I found this story slow; however the glass blowing tradition embedded within the structure of this family held me, as I revere craftmanship. I certainly enjoyed the use of glass creation as the method of transmission of the Busson family culture. Du Maurier strikes a chord in this book in illustrating how strong family ties and traditions are, even against the backdrop of the French Revolution - which uproots the world the glass blowers have known and will henceforth never know again. ...more
Lissa Notreallywolf
This is a novel set in the French Revolution, in a large family network of glassblowers. Much of it could be dismissed as boring, but Du Maurier makes the business dealings and family dramas fascinating. Presumably it is based on her own family history and few people would present a narcissist like Robert so candidly when it is their great grandfather. It reminds one of the hazards of genealogical research...beyond that I would have liked to have known more technical details about the glassmakin ...more
This is a great book about the French revolution from the perspective of a family of glass blowers. It was that good way. It provides a realistic view of how war can affect your perspective on a myriad of it can sometimes pervade all thought and how it can sometimes be ignored.
Mollie Matusick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vanda Bromwich
This is a story based on Daphne Du Maurier's own family history. The story of her ancestors who were glass blowers during the French Revolution.
Daphne du Maurier manages to unearth such a riot of sentiment in me that it takes a while to sort through everything. This book was loaded.

Had I known the setting swirled around the French Revolution when I picked it up, I'd have been a little reticent to read this one. However, like all her other works, the smooth, facile prose quickly sucked me inward before I had time to reconsider. The characters, as always, were so vivid that it seemed they must surely have lived - and have relations somewh
Using her own family history as inspiration, Du Maurier gives us the aging Sophie Duval, who has promised her nephew that she will tell the story of their family, starting with her mother marrying into the local community of glass blowers.

The story starts with Sophie's mother getting married in the 1770s in rural France, where the glass blowers are situated beside the forests that provide the fuel for the furnaces.

Sophie herself gets married in 1788 in a joint wedding with her younger sister. It
The Glass-Blowers is the story of a Busson family and their experience of the events surrounding the French Revolution. The story is told from the point of view of Sophie Duval as she is writing the family history for her nephew. Sophie's father is part of the glass-blowers guild and her mother was a the daughter of a city official who married against her parents wishes. The couple was very successful professionally, and even though it was a hard life, they were probably considered middle class. ...more
Tara Hall
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Rihani Azhari
This may be Daphne du Maurier's really significant novel out of the many she has written since 1931.


ONE DAY IN THE June of 1984 Madame Sophie Duval, nee Buson, eighty years of age and mother of the mayor of Vibraye, a small commune in the department of Sarthe, rose from her chair in the salon of the property at le Gue de hall, and calling to her dog made her way, as was her custom at this hour of the afternoon every Tuesday, down the short approach drive to the entrance gate.

She walk
A really lovely book. I've been reading all about the leaders of the revolution, but this story is about the ordinary people, not the ones in Paris where the action seems to focus in so many stories but in the little rural villages that live on rumour and are dying for some action of their own. In one respect, it's a simple story about their daily lives; in another light, it's an insight into the changes the revolution brought not just to the nation but to the people's thinking.

Sophie, the woma
Holly Weiss
The introduction to my edition states that du Maurier tried to distance herself from the “excess of gothic.” Known for stories filled with melodrama and suspense, she wrote the Glass-Blowers to frown upon excesses of the aristocracy. Instead of a suspense-filled story, she used Sophie’s letters to explain to her nephew, Robert, that the family was not aristocratic at all. Their sense of worth was in the quality of their art as glass-blowers. This was du Maurier’s way of restaging criticism level ...more
I liked reading about the French Revolution from the perspective of a person living in the times. I liked that there were untranslated French words that I needed to figure out or look up (diligence - as in the carriage, for instance, or looking up a recording of Ca ira by Edith Piaf to hear how compelling that marching/singalong music would have been). I found many, MANY parallels to today's economic and political situation in the US, and welcomed the reminder that those who chose sides, or had ...more
I adore novels of the French Revolution and this one takes an relatively unusual perspective, that of the countryside. Although the revolution centred around Paris, where the great political personalities clashed, the monarchy were deposed, and the people rioted, its impact outside the capital is also very interesting. Du Maurier's novel is really a family saga set during the revolution. Although its upheavals impinge significantly upon the family's fortunes, they themselves are in no sense cent ...more
The inside cover of my copy reads: "The Glass-Blowers is a novel about the Bussons, the auther's forbears, before and during the French Revolution. An engraved glass in her possession, and a letter written a hundred and fifty years ago, and found by chance among old family papers left by her grandfather George du Maurier, led her on a voyage of discovery: and the result is a novel which, by reason perhaps of the quiet intensity of the feeling that informs it, surpasses, in our view, any of her p ...more
The Glass-Blowers is Daphne Du Maurier’s historical novel which actually delves into her own ancestry, telling the story of a family of glass makers living and working during the French Revolution. I have read several of Du Maurier’s books, always with gusto, however this one fell short and disappointed me. Her historical information was relevant and interesting, however her characters were less than engaging and somewhat two-dimensional. I failed to feel for them or care for what they did.
Karen Michele
I loved the historical setting of The Glass-Blowers and enjoyed learning a little about the craft, but I just didn’t love the way this story was told. It felt like reading good non-fiction because there just wasn’t the depth of character development or emotional connection to the events of the French Revolution that I was expecting. I got a lot out of reading the book, but just no feelings for it like I usually experience and expect when reading historical fiction. The narrator kept us at a dist ...more
Daphne du Maurier wrote this novel as a fictionalized history of her own forebears. As best I can tell, the famous author is a descendant of Robert Busson, who added the “du Maurier” to the end of his name as part of his aristocratic pretensions. The Bussons were a two generation family of glass blowers in France, who were master craftsmen, but no aristocrats. Simply stated, Robert was a gambler, a risk taker who threw everything into his quest for prestige. He spent time in prison because of ba ...more
Although it's obvious Du Maurier was at some pains not to offend any well-heeled readers, as a family drama this is pretty good stuff, with none of the dry patches so common in historical fiction.
Rena Searles
An historical novel, crafted from the story of the author's real-life family. The story takes place before, during and after the French Revolution, and although it had never occured to me before, was strikingly similar to the same kind of civil division as our own Civil War here in the US. I think it must have been difficult for du Maurier to have told the details with such unsparing honesty, considering that this was her own family tree, but it gave me a much clearer picture of those events, wh ...more
Miss Clark
Really boring. The story covers a period of about one hundred years in France, from the time of the Sun King, through the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon's Empire and the restoration of the monarchy, following the falls and fortunes of the Busson family, master glass-blowers and engravers by trade. That family was messed up and I did not feel any real sympathy for any of the characters, especially once they all assisted in the Revolution and supported those madmen of the Tribuna ...more
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If Daphne du Maurier had written only Rebecca, she would still be one of the great shapers of popular culture and the modern imagination. Few writers have created more magical and mysterious places than Jamaica Inn and Manderley, buildings invested with a rich character that gives them a memorable life of their own.

In many ways the life of Daphne du Maurier resembles that of a fairy tale. Born int
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