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The Glass Woman

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  4,355 ratings  ·  743 reviews

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not tal
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published February 7th 2019 by Michael Joseph
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1686, ICELAND. A time of few choices for a woman. When marriage is not a choice but a means of survival. When you can't marry someone, you have feelings for as he/she might be a social class above or below you. Then, there is the threat of being labeled a witch…. ahh, the good ole days.....

"Sometimes I wonder if God hears my grief. Prayers fall like pebbles from my lips, and still the Lord is silent. Even the creator cannot unmake the past."

Rosa and her Mother are slowly starving. Without a
Amalia Gkavea
''But the knowledge of the body stayed, like the blood-spattered scenes at the end of the Sagas: those age-old, heat-filled stories, which are told to children from birth and fill every Icelander with an understanding of violence.''

Ιceland, during the 17th century. A young woman, Rósa, loves the sagas of the old and the legends of her beautiful, untamed country. But times demand a husband for every woman and she obeys, following Jón to a land of whispers and shadows, where suspicions and pre
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I enjoyed this novel thoroughly, for the plot and wonderfully created atmosphere of the place and period. Iceland in the 17th century seems to be a place that is dominated by all shades of grey and black, and so is hard life, which brings chores and little joy. Occasionally, there is a splash of cheerful yellow, just like there may be a cheerful moment or two for the inhabitants of the island.
The plot is intriguing, the place dark and yet appealing, and characters that do not leave a reader indi
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Women in Iceland (and everywhere, really) during this time period are expected to marry, and Rosa’s marriage is quickly arranged. She moves with her new husband, Jon, to a remote village, one where they don’t like “outsiders” like Rosa.

Rosa discovers her husband has buried his first wife, and she’s suspicious. He won’t speak of her death. The villagers don’t trust Jon either. Rosa senses darkness and worries for her future.

The atmosphere is harsh, bleak, and foreboding. The winter is particularl
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
17th Century Iceland: Witchcraft is punishable by death. Women are held submissive by virtue of Biblical scriptures. Food is scarce and the ocean is a death trap. The season of winter looms over villages like the shadow of the Engill dauðans.

Rosa trades her freedom and future by marrying the well-off bóndi Jon in order to help save her ill mother. After marrying and moving away, she is met with the haunting realization that his croft is filled with secrets and the village brimming with gossip.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Fiction and fans of Gothic Novels.
“Their words make grey clouds of sound in the cold air...”
― Caroline Lea, The Glass Woman

Clothed in wild Gothic beauty, drenched in vivid Prose, one can hear the howling sea, feel the Iceland cold and see the village people. More to follow. you may have guessed I liked this book!

As many have commented, it takes place in the 1600S in Iceland. And what atmosphere this book has.
The book's writing is gorgeous and sweeping and that, together with the vivid characterizations make this a book wel
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
But such moments of savage contentment are as fleeting as the reflection of the swelling moon blinking upon the surface of the sea. Only ever minutes old, they dissolve with a passing cloud, or a gust of wind.
In every human heart glows a tiny flame of hope that tomorrow will bring a love that might satisfy the smouldering yearning to be known. In some hearts, that fire is greedy and becomes a devouring inferno. It leaves only dead ash and dry dust behind. The wind whirls it into emptiness.But
Liz Barnsley
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh I DEVOURED this book. Haunting, chilly, beautifully created, 17th Century Iceland comes alive on the page and you feel for  it’s inhabitants who struggle daily to survive..
Into this epic landscape comes Rosa, who marries for practical purposes not love and who comes to believe she may be in grave danger from Husband Jon, the death of his first wife being  surrounded by gossip, intrigue and dark mutterings of witchcraft..
Caroline Lea paints a deeply sinister picture of  Rosa’s new home and dra
What better setting for a winter read than Iceland? The Glass Woman opens with a striking image: a tremor cracks the ice and a body floats to the surface of the sea, arm aloft, 'bone-white fingers waving, as if alive'. It's November 1686 on the western coast of Iceland, and as a group of villagers gathers, a man among them reflects on recent memories. He, we understand, knows the identity of the person under the ice; he put them there.

The main story, however, takes place months earlier and centr
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
17th century Iceland is not an easy place to live. Impoverished, Rosa marries to keep her mother alive and in doing so elevates her social standing, leaves the love of her life behind, and enters a world of unceasing work. The death of her husband’s first wife is the cause of gossip and rumor among the villagers and there is something (or someone) in a locked room upstairs that goes bump in the night. This is stark, dark and very satisfying.
Diane S ☔
Stopping at 38%. The atmosphere and setting kept me reading this far, but this book is so slowly paced. To me painfully so, I just need to put it aside.
Renee Godding
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 4.5 stars

This exceeded my expectations with how great it was.

Iceland, 1686. Rosa, a village girl from an impoverished family, is send off into a marriage of financial convenience, in order to keep her secure funds for her sick mother to survive the harsh winter. Rosa’s new found life does not come easy however. The small and isolated community of her new home is distrustful and unwelcoming to strangers. Rumors of witchcraft and misdeeds are mumbled around town, seemingly having R
Whispering Stories
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

August 1686, Iceland. Rósa, the daughter of the late Bishop of Skalholt is living with her mother Sigridur in a little hut. They once lead a comfortable life, now after the death of her father, Rósa and her mother are struggling.

A new wealthy man, Jón Eiríksson, arrives in town, they say his wife has only been dead for a few months and that he is there to not only deal with some work but to find himself a local girl to marry too.

With Rósa’s mum
Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I was drawn in by an intriguing title, a beautiful cover, and the promise of a dark tale set in a cold country.

Then I was captured by a striking image.

On the coast of Iceland in November 1686 a a tremor cracked the ice and a body floated to the surface of the sea. One arm was raised and its bone-white fingers waved, as if it was alive.

A group of villagers gathered to watch and talk, but there was one man among them who remained silent; because he knew the who the person under under the ice had b
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I’m really into atmospheric, gothic books at the moment and this certainly ticks that box! Set in Iceland in 1686, the whole plot of a young wife being haunted by her aloof husband’s ex feels like it’s been done to death and the plot really sags in the middle as too much time is given to this. (She takes the gloomy atmosphere to an all new depressing level!) But the last third, is brilliant so overall a good read. 👍
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This historical novel is set in Iceland in 1686. Rosa lives with her mother in a small, isolated community. This is a bleak landscape, where life is hard and existence difficult. While Rosa’s father was alive; a respected member of the community, they lived fairly comfortably – but, with his death, the two quickly struggle. When a stranger appears, the wealthy Jon Eriksson, Rosa ignores her mother’s warnings, as well as her own reluctance, and decides to marry him, in order to help protect her m ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Overhead the ravens wheel and shriek, always searching for the dead.”
In the prologue we are transported to 1686 Iceland. As the ice shifts and cracks the sea releases a trapped body. This sets the tone for the story of how each character is trapped. They are trapped, in part, by the time they live in. A time that punishes by death those who practice the old beliefs, demands a female always remain obedient and frequently forbids the expression of love. When one is forced to hide one’s true feeli
Sonja Arlow
This is a wonderfully atmospheric book set in one of my favourite time periods and places. It has an interesting story and characters as well as stellar audio narrators…….yet I could never really connect with the story.

I wonder if it would have made a difference if I read this rather than listen to it. Some books need to be read at a faster pace to be sucked in.

The author paints a foreboding and sinister picture of Rosa’s new home. Newly married, extremely isolated and unsure of her role in this
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
So nearly a 5 star read.

I was drawn to this novel because it’s set in Iceland, a land and culture that has an endless fascination for me. It’s set in the 17th century and gets off to a slow start. Rosa leaves the love of her life behind to marry a wealthy man who can provide for her ailing mother. From the moment she sets off for Stykkishólmur, where her husband lives, there is a menacing undercurrent and the book quickly becomes a page turner. Rosa’s new husband, Jon, has already lost one wife.
Mar 14, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

"A young bride must contend with ancient superstitions, disturbing secrets, and her mysterious new husband in this gothic historical novel, set in late-seventeeth-century Iceland, with the eerie, romantic atmosphere of Jane Eyre and Rebecca and the dark, haunting mystery of Burial Rites."

Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I didn’t just read this book, I experienced it. Caroline Lea conjures up an atmosphere fraught with tension that permeates every page. A tiny, isolated community is eking out an existence in a stark, brutal landscape where everything around them is dangerous - blizzards, the icy sea, the turbulent, volcanic land itself and, not least, each other. They walk a fine line between a harsh version of Christianity and the old beliefs in witchcraft and omens, and cling to superstition - any event out of ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
I really enjoyed this Gothic-like story set in 1689 Iceland. Following her father’s death, Rosa is forced to marry and move away from home so that she and her mother will not freeze or starve during the coming winter. Rumors abound about the fate of her new husband’s first wife and the strange man who works for him. The author did a great job of sustaining tension throughout and audiobook narration was very good. 4.5⭐️
Around her neck was a leather cord, on which dangled a tiny glass figurine that Jón had offered to her that morning as a wedding gift. It was cold, like frozen water, and shaped into the perfect form of a woman: tiny hands clasped in introspection, gaze meekly lowered. ... A woman made of glass and stillness: perfect but easily shattered.

Anyone who has read Hannah Kent's novel, Burial Rites, already knows that croft-life in Iceland in the olden days was hard. In The Glass Woman we discover that
Rosa finds herself far from home, far from everything and everyone she has known, and married to Jon, leader of a remote Icelandic community. Given the mystery surrounding the death of Jon's first wife, hints of madness and a loft she is forbidden to enter from which strange noises seem to emanate at night, Rosa could be forgiven for thinking she's in some 17th century Icelandic version of Jane Eyre or Rebecca. Add to that Jon's reluctance to talk about his past and his command that Rosa should ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it liked it
It took me a while to get into this book, I went from audible to e-reader back to audible. In the end the audio worked best for me because the narrators did a brilliant job creating a tense, eerie feeling. I loved the male narrator's accent, and they definitely also managed to add more feeling to the story.

One of the strongest elements in The Glass Woman is the Icelandic setting. The descriptions of the harsh environment, and the isolation because of this, forms the core of this historical myste
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Glass Woman is a deceptively bleak tale set in the vast icy expanse of seventeenth-century Iceland, and what I enjoyed the most was how very dark it was; the atmosphere was ominous, to say the least, and completely oppressive. The beautiful, brutal setting added to the atmospherics wonderfully and the Icelandic cultural references were intriguing to me. Perhaps it's the harshness of the landscape that has fuelled the suspicion running rife in the small communities who look on outsiders with ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Iceland proves a bleak and dramatic setting- Icelandic gothic maybe? The writing is evocative and well executed. The descriptions of people’s superstitions, of Witches and their reliance on Sagas contributed to the atmosphere of darkness and chill. However I didn’t feel surprised by the plot, it seemed highly predictable to me. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
Ruthy lavin
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book!
If you are a fan of the Amazon TV show ‘Viking’s’ - you will love this story!
It is so wonderfully visual, i felt as though I was watching an episode of Viking’s.
Really well researched and a great story from start to finish, this is hard to categorise but so worth a read.
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
A gorgeously atmospheric novel, strong on both the horrifying claustrophobia of an Icelandic winter and on the complexities of the relationships between its principle characters. I found the triangle between Petur, Jon and Rosa particularly ticklish, and there was a lovely intimacy to the ending. That said, the narrative is a bit far-fetched in parts and the villains are unrelentingly villainous and there are echoes of half a dozen well worn tropes. I would say a 3.5 stars rather than a 4 but im ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Oh, be still my beating historical-fiction-loving heart. This novel right here is exactly why I enjoy this genre so much! It reminded me a bit of Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, which you should also most definitely read if you haven’t done so already.

The Glass Woman tells the story of Rósa in 1686 Iceland. Struggling with poverty and a poorly mother, Rósa finds herself rather unexpectedly betrothed to Jón. He is the wealthy chief of another settlement and marrying him will make sure Rósa’s mother
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Caroline Lea grew up on the island of Jersey and gained a First from Warwick University. Her fiction and poetry have been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the BBC Short Story Prize. Her debut novel, The Glass Woman, a gothic thriller set during the Icelandic witch trials, was shortlisted for the HWA Debut Crown Award. Her next novel, The Metal Heart, was a powerful Second World War love stor ...more

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