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The Glass Blowers

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,540 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Daphne du Maurier's warm, human saga of a family of craftsmen in 18th century France - with the violence and terror of the Revolution as a clamouring background against which their loves and their hopes are played out.

Alternate cover to this edition is available here.
Paperback, 368 pages
Published 2004 by Virago Press Ltd. (first published January 1st 1963)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
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
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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

Daphne Du Maurier has two distinct voices as a novelist. One is the gothic, psychological voice of Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, and others. The second is the one she uses for her historical fiction, as in The King's General or Mary Anne. The Glass-Blowers, #8 on the 1963 bestseller list, is in the historical fiction mode. The author was descended from a family of glass-blowers and honors them with her novel.

Some readers are more pleased with the gothic novels but I like both of her genres, especi
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

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 :-).
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Even though we have a least six Daphne du Maurier books on our shelves, I had never actually read one until now. I really enjoyed this take on the French Revolution. It took place mainly away from Paris (in that way similar to Annette Vallon: A Novel of the French Revolution, a book I really loved). There was less emphasis on the guillotine and more on family dynamics. A very interesting read.
Daphne du Maurier travelled to France to research ancestors who were involved in the glass blowing industry, and was inspired to write this excellent book, which gives an unusual perspective on the times before, and during the French Revolution.
Not only does this book have an exciting plot and great characters, it's also an absorbing history lesson....
“The Glass-Blowers” tells the story of a middle-class family in France just before and during the French revolution.

Sophie Busson is the daughter of a master glassmaker and his wife, with three brothers and one sister. Her mother is formidable, respected and hard-working and in many ways becomes a ‘safety net’ for Sophie. Her father unfortunately dies while still in his fifties. Sophie was sixteen years old when she lost her father.

As the story progresses and a hard winter combined with high b
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1963, The Glass-Blowers is described as a ‘warm, human saga of a family of craftsmen in eighteenth-century France – with the violence and terror of the Revolution as clamouring background to its tragic climax’. As with du Maurier’s Mary Anne, the novel is semi-autobiographical; du Maurier’s glass-blowing ancestors the Bussons, who lived between 1747 and 1845, have been focused upon.

Comparisons with Mary Anne are easy to draw from the very beginning of The Glass-Blowers; the pr
Apr 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-tbr
3.5 stars warm well written story. I just felt a little put of my depth with the french history but otherwise it was a great read.
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
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This book was obviously very well researched and written. I did enjoy it. But somehow it felt a little impersonal. It is a "fictional" work yet was so full of factual prose I found it harder going than a regular novel.
Still, the descriptions of the terrifying French Revolution I found enlightening from the perspective offered. Very chaotic and brutal and ruthless.
Vanda Bromwich
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daphne du Maurier delves into her own family history to come up with this fascinating historical novel set against the turbulent times of the French Revolution.

After an unlikely meeting with a long lost relative, Sophie Busson has some clearing up to do and she narrates her family’s story, disclosing a secret or two along the way.

Sophie’s oldest brother Robert is the pivot of the plot and the novel’s most fascinating character. He lives on impulse, thrives on fiction, causes enormous damage by
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The fact that it is based on Daphne du Maurier's journey into her own family history added an extra degree of interest to this book as she follows the fortunes of her french ancestors.
Jessica Hoop
Beautifully written but boring as cheese. If this book was a colour it would be beige. If it was beige paint, it would come in the deluxe range.
Donna Ledington
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read in the 1970's while in a Du Maurier phase.
Mollie Matusick
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tara Hall
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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.
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
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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 a fairy tale. Born into a fami
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