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The House of Velvet and Glass

Cover of The House of Velvet and Glass

The House of Velvet and Glass

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Katherine Howe, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with an entrancing historical novel set in Boston in 1915, where a young woman stands on the cusp of a new century, torn between loss and love, driven to seek answers in the depths of a crystal ball.

Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in an elegant town house in Boston's Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium.

But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium's crying glass.

From the opium dens of Boston's Chinatown to the opulent salons of high society, from the back alleys of colonial Shanghai to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass weaves together meticulous period detail, intoxicating romance, and a final shocking twist that will leave readers breathless.

Praise for The House of Velvet and Glass

"Richly atmospheric, The House of Velvet and Glass transported me to the turn of the twentieth century and a world changing as rapidly and irrevocably as our own. A gifted historian and storyteller, Katherine Howe has created a vividly imagined world that made me want to suspend time, lingering just a bit longer with the characters who live there, before the whole thing vanished in the clouded glass."

—Brunonia Barry author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places

"The House of Velvet and Glass is an intricate and intimate family portrait, painted against a backdrop of beautifully rendered tales of colonialist Shanghai, the wreck of the Titanic, and upper-crust Boston dabblers in the spirit world in the uneasy days preceding the Great War. I'd ask Katherine Howe for more than this, but it seems churlish to request that she turn the pages for me."

—Lyndsay Faye, author of The Gods of Gotham and Dust and Shadow

"Katherine Howe follows up her amazing debut with The House of Velvet and Glass, a thoughtful journey into the realms of the supernatural that inhabits its source material with effortless ease and charm. A totally absorbing read peopled with characters who will haunt readers' minds."

—David Liss, author of The Twelfth Enchantment and A Conspiracy of Paper

Katherine Howe, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with an entrancing historical novel set in Boston in 1915, where a young woman stands on the cusp of a new century, torn between loss and love, driven to seek answers in the depths of a crystal ball.

Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in an elegant town house in Boston's Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium.

But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium's crying glass.

From the opium dens of Boston's Chinatown to the opulent salons of high society, from the back alleys of colonial Shanghai to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass weaves together meticulous period detail, intoxicating romance, and a final shocking twist that will leave readers breathless.

Praise for The House of Velvet and Glass

"Richly atmospheric, The House of Velvet and Glass transported me to the turn of the twentieth century and a world changing as rapidly and irrevocably as our own. A gifted historian and storyteller, Katherine Howe has created a vividly imagined world that made me want to suspend time, lingering just a bit longer with the characters who live there, before the whole thing vanished in the clouded glass."

—Brunonia Barry author of The Lace Reader and The Map of True Places

"The House of Velvet and Glass is an intricate and intimate family portrait, painted against a backdrop of beautifully rendered tales of colonialist Shanghai, the wreck of the Titanic, and upper-crust Boston dabblers in the spirit world in the uneasy days preceding the Great War. I'd ask Katherine Howe for more than this, but it seems churlish to request that she turn the pages for me."

—Lyndsay Faye, author of The Gods of Gotham and Dust and Shadow

"Katherine Howe follows up her amazing debut with The House of Velvet and Glass, a thoughtful journey into the realms of the supernatural that inhabits its source material with effortless ease and charm. A totally absorbing read peopled with characters who will haunt readers' minds."

—David Liss, author of The Twelfth Enchantment and A Conspiracy of Paper

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 26, 2012
    The sinking of the Titanic ripples through the lives of a socially prominent Boston family in an impressive historical tale from Howe (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane). Three years after the disaster claimed her mother and sister, Sibyl Allston finds solace in the séances of the medium Mrs. Dee while her brother, Harley, is expelled from Harvard and returns home in the company of the less-than-respectable Dovie Whistler, an actress. Re-entering the family’s life is Benton Derby, a young Harvard professor whose aborted courtship of Sibyl years before has left her doomed to the life of a spinster and family caretaker. Moving through time from 1915 back to Sibyl’s father’s past as a young sailor in Shanghai half a century before and to the last hours of the Titanic itself, Howe’s story of the growing attraction between Sibyl and Benton in the shadow of grief and loss merges gracefully into a compelling exploration of spiritualism and free will. An engaging story of love, destiny, and sacrifice in the growing shadow of WWI, with the unexpected touch of fantasy. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 6, 2012
    Set primarily in Boston in 1915, Howe’s novel follows Sibyl Allston as she attempts to come to terms with the death of her parents and rebuild her life. To this end, she enlists the help a psychic medium. But when her brother is thrown out of Harvard and becomes involved with an inappropriate woman, Sibyl turns to psychology professor for help—only to discover a deeper mystery. Heather Corrigan turns in competent if uninspired narration in this audio edition. She reads in a soothing, lilting voice—her narration crisp and well-paced—but her performance lacks nuance and the voices she creates for the book’s characters could be more distinct. A Voice hardcover.

  • AudioFile Magazine Heather Corrigan's voice is delicate as a spider's web luring listeners into an otherwise unremarkable melodrama. Katherine Howe's paranormal romance weaves the sinking of the TITANIC into the lives of those devastated by the loss of loved ones aboard the ill-fated liner. Sibyl Allston lives with her aloof father and her black-sheep brother in posh Back Bay Boston. After losing her mother and sister to the tragedy three years earlier, Sibyl seeks comfort from spirit-world sources, psychology, opium, and romance. While some of Corrigan's character voices are exaggerated, her rendition of flashbacks and memories is affecting, and her early-twentieth-century diction is charming. However, even with Corrigan's appealing narration, the uninspired storytelling may disappoint fans of Howe's earlier work, THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE. S.J.H. © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
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  • Publisher
    Hyperion
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