Cover image for River of glass
River of glass
Bergman, Deborah.
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New York : Putnam, [1990]

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In Begar, a small seaside town in northeastern Spain, an American woman tries to come to terms with an incestuous relationship that has haunted her most of her life. It's the old story of heroine running away to try to "find" herself. In this case, the protagonist, Tess Jordan, is a glassblower (an occupation the author describes with detail and elegance), and her quest for absolution of the past only draws her to other secretive forces. Tess becomes involved with a community of refugees from Argentina's undercover war and falls in love with the leader of the group, a man who is not without secrets himself. (The uncovering of all these secrets is somewhat arduous, and the reader is continually aware that information is being withheld, an annoying state of affairs.) The strength of the novel lies not in its political leanings or in its dark dramatic plot, but rather in the description of a foreign land that proves a good locale for the author's philosophical probings on the nature of loss and escape. --Gale Walden

Publisher's Weekly Review

This cryptic first novel by the author of the nonfiction Inner Voyage skimps on plot details and abounds with abstract impressions of glass, light, color, movement, stillness, wetness. Tess Jordan, a glassblower living temporarily in a Spanish coastal town, becomes entangled with Argentineans who, like her, are running from their pasts and hiding from the world. Recalling the secrets of her youth in suburban New York, she draws parallels between these and her present refuge in Spain in an effort to understand and reconstruct her life. Bergman likens Tess to a smashed pane of glass whose shiversstet she must glue back together. Indeed, the novel itself resembles a shattered stained-glass window; its fragments are aesthetically intriguing, but too many pieces are missing for the picture to be pieced together. That the reader's confusion aptly reflects the heroine's does not compensate for the ensuing frustration, exacerbated by the absence of answers to such crucial questions as what finally motivates Tess to rejoin the real world or why she chose to abandon it in the first place. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In her first novel, Bergman presents a coming-of-age story somewhat reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's Surfacing . Tess, a young American glassworker, shares studio space in a small Spanish town that is home to a group of Argentinian refugees and their enigmatic leader, Janier. Tess and Janier begin a reserved attachment, with both hiding more than they are willing to reveal. Tess's artistic interest in the shadows that are cast by works of glass rather than the light that filters through them becomes a metaphor for the secrets of their lives. The novel gets off to a slow start, but when Tess begins to confront her past and to learn something of Janier's, the reader is rewarded for persevering. Recommended for libraries with all but the smallest of fiction collections.-- Debbie Tucker, Cincinnati Technical Coll., Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.