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Book Review: The Glass Blowers by Daphne Du Maurier

The book takes one back to the history of Du Maurier’s, ancestors who were in to glass making business in Central France in eighteen century, and how the family coped up with the clamours post the French Revolution.


The book is more a memoir of Sophie Busson-Duval, to apprise her nephew Louis-Mathurin Busson, about his late father Robert Busson, who himself was a master glass blower but had fled to London during French Revolution. The narration spans a period of almost hundred years, starting with wedding of her parents – her mother Magadalenine, daughter of a Ballif and Maurine Busson, from a glass maker’s family. Their trials and tribulations in life, right from glass making foundry to her father’s rise as a Master Glass Blower with childhood of their children Robert, Pierre, Michel, Sophie and Edme, and later incidents are dealt in detail.

Seeing progress of her father and mother, by dint of their hard work, Sophie having imbibed best of both, comes across as a strong individual yet gives in when circumstances warrant. She outlines characters of her siblings and their drifting from glass making to different areas of their interest, due to French Revolution that takes place with the ouster of King Louis XV and finally power resting with Napolean Bonapart.

More than French Revolution what one falls for is the way she had sketched her siblings, their strengths, weaknesses and their differences. The story has everything from tragedy to togetherness, dealing with distinct quality each had yet at the end one can’t help but to wonder no matter how divergent the habits of siblings, their bonding remains as also the will to pardon each other’s shortcomings. Thus emphasizing the strength of the family lies in staying united and providing the support when required the most.

Quotes from the book that give an overview of the main traits, of the siblings, the book deals with...

Tragedy …
“They say it takes a woman her full time again to recover from the birth of a first child, if she should lose it”.

Love ….
“In her arms was security that was stable of our old world, which had been so disrupted; against her heart was refuge from my own fears of the present, my own doubts of the future”.

Learning ….
“Take care” my father used to say, when first instructing Robert in the art of blowing glass. “Control is of supreme importance. One false movement and the expanding glass will be shattered.

Conscience ….
I have no desire to make a fortune”, returned Pierre. “Whoever enriches himself does so at the expense of some poor beggar or other. Let those who wish to be wealthy, reconcile themselves to their conscience first.”

Ambitions….
“If my mother had known what small seed of longing she was sowing in my brother’s being, to develop in to a folie de grandeur”.

Deceit, Mounting Debts, Treason …
“None of his trials and troubles had done anything for him except to make him, if it were possible, more of an adventurer than ever before: one who gambled, not only with his own and with other people’s money, but with human failings as well.

Overall a good read, though at times gets heavy for the detailing with which the incidents during the revolution are drawn.

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