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A Reader of Fictions: Tradition - Fiddler on the Roof

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tradition - Fiddler on the Roof

Sisters of Glass

Stephanie Hemphill
Pages: 150
ARC Acquired from: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:

Maria is the younger daughter of an esteemed family on the island of Murano, the traditional home for Venetian glassmakers. Though she longs to be a glassblower herself, glassblowing is not for daughters—that is her brother's work. Maria has only one duty to perform for her family: before her father died, he insisted that she be married into the nobility, even though her older sister, Giovanna, should rightfully have that role. Not only is Giovanna older, she's prettier, more graceful, and everyone loves her.

Maria would like nothing more than to allow her beautiful sister, who is far more able and willing to attract a noble husband, to take over this role for her. But they cannot circumvent their father's wishes. And when a new young glassblower arrives to help the family business and Maria finds herself drawn to him, the web of conflicting emotions grows even more tangled.

First Sentence: "I feel Giovanna's fire / as Mother prepares me for suitors, / polishes me / while Giovanna polishes glass."

Having actually been to Murano, I was super excited to read this book. There's nothing better than getting to remember the awesome places I've been! What I did not know going into this book was that it was written in verse. At first, I assumed it was my lack of attention, but it's not in the description anywhere, so go forward with this knowledge as my gift to you.

Ordinarily, this would have been a revelation of tragic proportions, since I'm not typically a big fan of poetry, but I just read and enjoyed Love & Leftovers, so I went into this with an open mind. Besides, the first sentence, while not quite arresting, is pleasant. I like the comparison of the polishing, which implies that the girl is an object like the mirror.

However, the verse really didn't work for me in this one. Maria doesn't really seem like she would think/speak/write in verse; she's an artist, not a linguist. The language did not seem, to me, to flow very naturally from her. Additionally, the lines do not read like verse to me; most of the time, they feel like prose that has been hacked up into smaller lines. Of course, I'm not well-versed in verse, so take that for what its worth.

Also, I totally don't get why Maria's sister Giovanna is so rude about her father having decided to marry off the younger daughter first. Even if she doesn't like that she was passed over, it's not like Maria asked for the honor to be bartered to the highest bidder. That totally made me angry.

The story I liked, although it wasn't especially original; it had a very Shakespearean comedy type feel to it. If you like quick, cute stories, you might like Sisters of Glass.

Favorite Quote: "Learning to be a lady / is like learning / to live within a shell, / to be a crustacean encased / in a small white / uncomfortable world."

Rating: 2.5/5

"And who does Mama teach to mend and tend and fix,
Preparing me to marry whoever Papa picks?

The daughter, the daughter! Tradition!"

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Anonymous Christina Kit. said...

I too have problems with stories in verse. This one sounded so original!

Just to get a peek into glass-making and Murano - it's too bad it didn't live up to your expectations.

March 22, 2012 at 5:12 PM  

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