The Glass-Blowers by Daphne du Maurier

A sweeping account of a family of glassblowers that chronicles the aftermath of the decisions they take and how the French Revolution‘s changing momentum upends the little control they have over their destiny.

The Glass-Blowers is a family saga that is quite unlike most of Daphne du Maurier’s other works – in style and tone. It has none of the ambience of Rebecca, the suspense of My Cousin Rachel, or even a structure in terms of a plot.

The free-flowing narrative in the novel, devoid of a distinct beginning-middle-end, spans decades.

To me, the socio-political state of the country felt more like a guiding force than anything else. It was like all the characters were just being swept forward by the tides of changing political scenarios.

The system might one day change, but human nature remained the same, and there were always people who profited at the expense of others.

Magdalene, Sophie Duval’s mother has got to be one of my favourite characters in the book even though she is only present in the first quarter or so. She has a resemblance to the female protagonists that we are used to seeing in du Maurier’s works – driven, outspoken, and ready to find their place in the world.

As I was reading, I knew that this would be by far one of my lowest-rated Daphne du Maurier books.

Several sections felt too dull, I didn’t particularly care for most of the characters, and the main reason I kept reading was so that we could discuss the book at our book club.

Image Courtesy – Goodreads

While there are quite a few conflicts introduced in the story, it doesn’t do much for the pacing. At almost no point did I feel apprehensive about what was going to happen or even anticipate the direction of the story.

Perhaps the point of introducing a morally grey character like Robert and then maintaining his character arc to be pretty much the same throughout the novel was to show that not all people change even after they’ve borne the brunt of consequences.

If that was the agenda, I can appreciate it. But Robert’s consistent money troubles, irresponsibility, and lack of remorse were certainly off-putting to me. Sophie’s unconditional support of him highlights one of the strongest messages this book sends across – that blood is indeed thicker than water.

Those who are familiar with the French Revolution might enjoy the book a lot more as it delves into the details of the opposing powers and the hope that their followers carried.

On the whole, it is well-written as a family saga and gives you a glimpse of the entire lifetime of a few characters. I’m glad to have picked it up just to know how diverse du Maurier’s writing truly can be.

Published by Meera Nair

A 27 year-old freelance Content Writer, who spends all her free time ensconced in the pages of a book or writing to her heart's content about topics that excite the creative spirit in her.

One thought on “The Glass-Blowers by Daphne du Maurier

  1. I agree, Sophie’s mother was a great character and it was a pity when the narrative moved away from her, this was always going to be a challenging novel to construct being based on her own family history and the research that she did for it.

    I found it interesting that the women are the truth tellers and the men either embellish it or are happy to go along with the fiction, even in real life, though du Maurier’s grandfather knew the family history was a fabrication he continued to tell the stories as if they were true to the point that her own father was adamant they were true Her research showed otherwise and she was happy to own up to it, that they were craftsmen, not aristocracy.

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