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The Glass Ocean

2.94 of 5 stars 2.94  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  57 reviews
A story of love, art, and obsession in Victorian England from debut novelist Lori Baker

The Glass Ocean is a story of becoming. Flamehaired, six-foot-two in stocking feet, newly orphaned Carlotta Dell’oro recounts the lives of her parents—solitary glassmaker Leopoldo Dell’oro and beautiful, unreachable Clotilde Girard—and discovers in their loves and losses, their omissions
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Penguin Press (first published July 26th 2013)
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Historical Fiction 2013
102nd out of 585 books — 2,372 voters
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Literary Historical Fiction
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,797)
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Lolly LKH
When I began reading this story I was barely trudging through and then the appearance of gems, which I plucked, in the form of sentences that suddenly changed the tone of the entire book for me. This strange novel pulled me in and it was a slow bleed.

First, I have to address the feelings of frustration other reviewers mention over the slow, muddled beginning. You have to adjust to the writing, much as one would a poem. The language is beautiful but most of us don't prance about speaking like th
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Valentina
This has to be one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read so far this year. The prose’s lushness left me stunned many times, and the story itself is delicately written.
I loved the way the story was told, with the narrator weaving the plot along, almost making it happen as she imagines it. There were so many fabulous details of the Victorian period, including details to do with ships and seafaring, that the reader really felt immersed in the age. The story is like an old, kind of worn p
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Erica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth
This book employs lush poetic language. I would go so far as to say that the rhythms of language are central to the characterizations and setting of the book. The author's work with phrasing, with the momentum of clauses within a sentence and how they conjure an atmosphere, era, and person was a great pleasure for me, though I would acknowledge that for those readers who want a more plot-driven novel, this style might be discomfiting.

It's clear that an enormous amount of research went into the
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Maddison
I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

The beginning of this novel began slowly for me. At first, I had to push myself to keep reading a little bit every night, until finally the story picked up in the second section. After that, I found the book to be a wonderful escape - I could very easily place myself in the world Lori Baker created around the lives of several tragic characters. The middle of the book, for me, was fast reading, and thoroughly enjoyable. The end slowed do
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Lissa
This is a slow book. One that allows the beauty of the language to tell the story without giving too much away. Carlotta is an orphan that creates the story of her parents as she tells it, imagining what they would have felt or said or done. Although a sad story, it is beautifully written and one that I am very glad to have immersed myself in. This was a Goodreads Giveaway.
Natalie
I will not star this book because I quit at page 54. Received it in a goodreads giveaway.

Seems to be the type of book that wins a literary award and lingers about a century longer than it should to torment high school students by being an enforced reading assignment. I have no doubt that some overeducated academic will espouse that this book is well written because of this or that; but I think it's just really wordy and obnoxious.

The author has chosen to thumb her nose at what would be considere
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Ruth
This is an exquisite and harrowing work of literary fiction. So many images and passages will stay with me. I grew to care deeply for each of the three main characters – the heartbreaking narrator and her two exceptional parents – even when I did not always like what they did. I found myself marveling at the beautiful quality and control of language – on par with the best lyrical fiction — and the remarkably rich sensory world. I have to say that Lori Baker's ability to bring art and science to ...more
Paula
I can count on the fingers of my two hands the number of books of true literature I've read that were first published since 2000 -- and this is one of them. Baker has a keen ear for the sentence, for rhythm, and how that rhythm solidifies the content. She is a materialist -- making the words convey through their sense of sound as well as through their sense of meaning. This skill and attention is rare in any era, but at this point something of a lost art. I'd read her just for that ability alone ...more
Pierre
I like to read challenging books -- but ones that also have an emotional center. The Glass Ocean is definitely a challenging and deeply emotion-filled book -- pulsating language, descriptions of a world that is delicious in its specificity, and characters so raw I wanted to wrap them in my arms. I kept trying not to blink so as to take the book in all at once, like a work of visual art -- the scale pushes beyond that capacity, but still, the more I read in one sitting the better. The reviews her ...more
janet
Fascinating story based on quirky, obsessive real people. The point of view was bizarre--inconsistent--the narrator speaks from the POV of an unborn child who somehow can see everything about her parents' lives and be inside their minds before she was even conceived. That was hard to take, but the characters are portrayed with passion and subtlety. I'd put it halfway into the magical realism genre, but also squarely into historical fiction with gorgeous period detail.
Erica Grossman
A really amazing story about a young woman who has grown up with parents who are too absorbed to care for her, about her, and eventually no longer literally there for her. Reading this was painful, but incredible -- psychologically riveting.
Barney
There is hope for new literary commercial fiction. This book links poetry to fiction -- the language is so sure and brilliant, the music so finely calibrated, that there's a spell cast -- my spine goes tingly. The book cover is a bit of a head-scratcher -- this is NOT a romance novel; it is, rather, in the tradition of Joyce, Beckett, Woolf.
Linda
I gave up on this slow going book. It's dream like quality was too repetitive. The opening was captivating but it was down hill by page 50 and by age 100 I just could not take it any more. This was a pre-published edition I was reading for my library so I am glad I did not pay for this book.
Jiji
One of the best books I've read this year. Lot of sadness here, but also many wonders. Took me quite a few hours to read, but I was unable to put it down. And then I cried a bit...
Karen
Beautifully written book; much imagery and colorful prose. Sad story of how people can ignore the ones they love in everyday life and yet love them in their hearts. Tragic!
Kathryn
Jul 15, 2013 Kathryn marked it as to-read
Shelves: first-reads
The cover of this book is interesting. I can't wait to get this book! I won this book
and I am looking forward to reading it. Yea!

Guylou
Last year, I received a copy of The Glass Ocean from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review. I am a bit late to write it since the book was published on August 1st 2013.

This was a very hard read... slow and painfully repetitive.

The entire story can be contained in about 20 pages, but was stretched to breaking point by constant repetitions. The repetitive writing style dragged the story and besought me to quit reading that book over and over. I persisted because of my stubbornness and f
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Janet
A dysfunctional victorian family - for me to love a book I have to really connect with a character and that didn't happen for me. The narrator is an orphaned girl that tells the story of her parents' lives even before she was born. All of the characters have an emptiness about them and they all deal with their disappointments in sad destructive ways. The writing is beautifully descriptive and I guess that is what seems a bit disjointed and unsettling while reading the book. The language of the s ...more
Rhonda
I didn't care for this story. There wasn't much in the way of character development and little or no dialogue. I was constantly wondering why? Why did the father leave his family? Why was he hunting for his sister? I found reading it rather dull. The main character had little presence in the book except as a narrator of things prior to her birth. Even after she becomes part of the cast of characters there's little to tell who she is. Continuity is haphazard at best..invisible at worst.

It left me
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Diana Hale
Beautifully written with many descriptive, poetic passages. Unusual in its consistency of first person voice and continuous narrative. Appealing to me for its watery subject matter - seas, underwater creatures,the river, even the fluidity of glass.
Vicki
I don't even know if I can provide a review for this book as I didn't finish it. What I did read (I gave up around page 105) was confusing. I have no idea who Carlotta is or why she was telling this story as neither was interesting enough to hold my interest. Admittedly, this wasn't my type of book to begin with and I tried to like it but it felt like something I would be forced to read in high school. Or an Oprah's pick.

I won this book through Goodreads First Reads.
Darcy Bell
I cannot believe how good this book was. I was so amazed by the music of the sentences, and by the depth of emotions that built up. What was up with the book cover? This book is more in line with the blurbs from Banville and Pynchon than with the romance riff of the design. Indeed, it seems almost more an anti-romance. Heartbreaking, beautiful...
Steve
Feb 07, 2013 Steve marked it as wish-list
Shelves: novels
Thomas Pynchon sez: "An adventure of dreamlike momentum and romantic intensity, brought alive by a storyteller with uncanny access to the Victorians, not only to the closely-woven texture of their days but also to the dangerous nocturnal fires being attended to in their hearts."
Kate Hearn
***I WON THIS BOOK IN A GOODREADS GIVEAWAY****


I did something I never do...I gave up on this book. I found it very slow and boring, and I just couldn't get into it.

Although, it would seem I am not the only one, so that makes me feel a bit better.
Laura
I absolutely loved this book. Written in a poetic style. I liked it much more than the people in my book discussion group.
Donna Amado
left me with a lingering sadness... beautifully written though.
Marty
This novel really captured my imagination when I read the flyleaf description. For the most part it delivered. I was fascinated by the strange relationship between Carlotta's parents. Clotilde, the mother, beautiful, spoiled, daddy-obsessed, perpetually grieving the loss of her explorer father. Leopoldo, he father, talented but weak, in love with a wife whose self-absorption he can't confront, let alone penetrate. The daughter, who may or may not be the result of a love affair between Clotilde a ...more
rivka
One of the stranger books I have read, it lacked a plot almost entirely. To avoid making that obvious, it jumped forwards and backwards in time and perspective. The first-person narrator knows things she has no way of knowing (even years later, her "now"), and only discloses some details while hiding others.

What was the point of the whole tale? Heck if I know.
Erica
didn't finish this, could not get past the writing style...I found it very stilted and annoying
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Lori Baker's books include a novel, The Glass Ocean, and three short story collections, Crash & Tell: Stories, Crazy Water: Six Fictions, and Scraps. She has taught writing at Brown University, Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, and Boston College. She lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island.
More about Lori Baker...
Crash and Tell: Stories Crazy Water: Six Fictions Minor Archeologies On the Verge Scraps

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“It is interesting, is it not, how we always think most about the one who has gone away and left us? And least about the one who has remained behind?” 4 likes
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