“The House of Velvet and Glass”, a historical fiction set in 1915 Boston is a thoughtful journey that transports us to the turn of the twentieth century. The story captures a moment in time and executes meticulously period details as we are whisked between colonial Shanghai to the luxurious halls of the Titanic, the opium dens of Boston’s Chinatown and the opulent salons of its upper crust.
Richly written to create lush descriptions and vivid characterization the story inserts us into the Allston’s family saga. Told in three parts: flashback aboard the Titanic, during lan Allston’s, head of the family, time in China as a young sailor and from Sybil’s, the older daughter, point of view.
This is primarily Sibyl’s story, a young woman torn from the loss of her mother and sister since the sinking of the Titanic and is now driven to seek answers from a crystal ball (scrying glass) given to her by a medium during a séance. While the story unfolds we are enveloped with a wonderful prose and an amalgam of tragic stories. Although not a lot of action takes place and the pacing is rather slow I never thought this was a boring read at any time, on the contrary. It is so filled with interesting characters and unique look into the spiritualism of the period that curiosity took hold and never let go. Some may say Ms. Howe rambles a lot and the core plot may be lacking but in whole “The House of Velvet and Glass” is an interesting read..