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#25 The Glass Harmonica by Louise Marley

Eilish Eam is an orphan living in poverty in London in 1761. She earns her living by playing the water glasses on a street corner.  When her music attracts the attention of Benjamin Franklin, he offers her a new life. All she has to do in return is help him with his latest musical invention, the glass harmonica. In 2018, Erin Rushton is a talented musician who plays the glass harmonica. At twenty-three, she's tried of being treated like a child by others who are mislead by her youthful appearance. Then she begins to see strange visions of a young girl who also plays the glass harmonica. As these two musicians are connected across time, their lives develop in ways that are both different, yet similar.

The Glass Harmonica is a book that has been sitting on my shelf for years, but has never been touched for one reason or another. After recently reading Felix J Palma's The Map of Time, I've found myself in the mood for more books that mix science fiction with historical fiction. The Glass Harmonica is a book that ends up accomplishing this feat with a greater degree of success than The Map of Time. One of the reasons The Glass Harmonica succeeds so well is the historical fiction and science fiction elements are very well balanced with each other. Both the past and future storylines are well developed and feature likable protagonists. Despite the connection between the two musicians, The Glass Harmonica is not a time travel story, as the actual interaction between the two musicians don't go much further than ghostly images. Instead, what ends up connecting them, and makes the book so interesting, is the many ways which their two lives parallel each other.

The greatest connection between the two storylines can be found in how the settings are developed. Until she encounters Benjamin Franklin, Eilish lives a life of stark poverty, an existence that at first clashes with the sci fi setting. In Erin's 2018 storyline, Marley has created a vision of future that is obsessed with the past, where people carefully cultivate neighborhoods to perfectly mimic how they once stood decades or more ago. The downside of these beautifully crafted neighborhoods is those who cannot afford them are forced into homelessness, living out their entire existences in tent cities. The stark separation between the upper and lower classes can be felt just as strongly though both time lines. Other ways which Eilish and Erin's life parallel each other end up digging into the issues of the emotional power of music, medical ethics, and family. Despite the fact that the novel can have it's shocking and sad moments, it's not an overly dark tale, and can also posses real warmth.

The Glass Harmonica is a fantastic mix of historical and science fiction. Although I found myself somewhat skeptical of some of the futuristic elements (mainly in relation to Dr. Berrick's medical experiments), I found the book on a whole to be rather enjoyable and look forward to reading more books by Louise Marley.

Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 334 pages
Source: paperbackswap
Other books I've read by this author: This is my first

Next I'll be reviewing The Crowfield Demon by Pat Walsh.

Xposted to temporaryworlds, bookish, and goodreads
Tags: xxx author last name: i-q
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