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The Glass Woman

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  661 ratings  ·  231 reviews
“A perfect, gripping winter read. I loved it.” —Sophie Mackintosh, Man Booker longlisted author of The Water Cure

“Memorable and compelling. A novel about what haunts us—and what should.” —Sarah Moss, author of Ghost Wall

Rósa has always dreamed of living a simple life alongside her Mamma in their remote village in Iceland, where she prays to the Christian God aloud during t
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Harper (first published February 7th 2019)
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3.76  · 
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 ·  661 ratings  ·  231 reviews

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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 p
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Ova - Excuse My Reading
A very well-written book, however for me, the story was not original and I lost focus a bit. It felt like reading a combination of The Miniaturist and Rebecca set in 1600's Iceland.
Rosa marries to a man and moves to another village, the only reason she agreed this marriage is to save her mother's life, as the winter is harsh and the food is scarce. But her husband has secrets too. Everyone murmurs about the first wife. Will Rosa find out what really happened?
The plot for me, was a bit predictab
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
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.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Historical Fiction and fans of Gothic Novels.
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 well worth reading.

It is a tough book to review without giving spoilers. I will say I disagre
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
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
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
Liz Barnsley
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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."

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
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
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.
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
Joanna Park
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Glass Woman is an extraordinary novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It manages to be atmospheric, gripping and very dark which makes it the perfect book to snuggle up with on cold nights.

Firstly the Icelandic settings is superbly described so that the reader can picture the scenes vividly. The dark, volatile landscape almost becomes another character as it sits brooding in the background and seems to reflect Rósa’s mood as the book progresses which I thought was very clever. I also love
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea, set in Iceland in 1686, has a dark atmosphere, saturated in sadness, fear and superstition, a story of suspicion, love and violence. The story takes places over just a few months from August to December. It begins in November 1686 as a body surfaces from the ice-crusted sea, a body that had been weighted down with stones. But the land in Iceland is never still and the stones had been dislodged, pushing the body upwards and breaking the ice above.

And then the stor
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea is a wonderful book, an atmospheric and immersive tale of superstition and salvation. Can we talk about the setting for this novel? Iceland, 1686 – the perfect setting; in the village of Stykkisholmur, the whispers of the locals created this real sense of isolation for Rósa. The cold climate, and the snowfall, enhanced this feeling of isolation, and created not only a sense of loneliness, but brought with it this air of desperation, this need for you, the reader, ...more

Visit the locations in the novel

Out in February, this is a novel to watch out as it captures the magic of a country, the culture and belief system of its time.

What a remarkable novel. So eery and chilling in both atmosphere and prose. The writing is exquisite and is carried on the whispering winds of the setting. A haunting tale of a woman having to marry someone she doesn’t know. This man is feared and there are tales of how his first wife died. Now he wants another wife and Rosa, our heroine,
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, gothic
Dark and moody. It took me places I didn’t expect to go and made me feel all the feelings. I’m looking forward to seeing what this author does next.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
This was a great read! There is plenty of foreboding, atmosphere, tension and sinister elements inside. It comes to a taut and tension-filled end too. I also shed a tear at the end, it was a beautiful ending, but I won't say for whom I shed the tears for, it might give too much away.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars

You can also read this review on on my book blog.

I couldn’t resist joining the blog tour for The Glass Woman when I read the synopsis of it. I just felt like it’s my kind of book – it has all the elements I like: historical fiction, mystery and intriguing plot.

The Glass Woman takes place in Iceland in the year 1686 where we meet Rósa, a young woman who lives in poverty with her mother in a small community where life is hard. Rósa becomes spoken for by Jón who’s a powerful figure and who
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Caroline Lea was born and raised in Jersey. She gained a First in English Literature and Creative Writing from Warwick University and has had poetry published in The Phoenix Anthology and An Aston Anthology, which she also co-edited. When the Sky Fell Apart is her first novel.