somewhere below the hubbub of the dinner hour, under the omnipresent vibrating of the ship’s engines, a clock could be heard beginning to chime. Helen Allston tightened her grip on her daughter’s elbow, brushing aside the lace from Eulah’s sleeve to better settle her fingers in its crook. She cast a sidelong glance at Eulah, whose buoyant anticipation seemed not to register her mother’s weight on her arm. Eulah’s face, flushed and pink, eyelids darkened with such a cunning hand that even Helen, who knew better, found the change difficult to detect, wore a bright, open expression that few other women’s daughters could manage with success. Helen sighed with satisfaction. She never tired of seeing the world through Eulah’s eyes, young and willing as they were.
But not too willing, of course.
“What a fetching way you’ve done your hair,” she murmured, steering Eulah with a firm hand toward the grand staircase. Her daughter’s blond curls, too unruly for Helen’s liking most of the time, had been twisted off her forehead and fastened back in a roll, then smothered with a cloud of fragile black netting fastened at the crown with a butterfly, its enamel wings set en tremblant, and so shimmering slightly with Eulah’s every movement.
“My brooch?” Helen said aloud, recognizing the ornament, and Eulah turned to her, eyes wide with mock innocence.
“You don’t mind, do you, Mother?” she asked, dimpling. “Nellie said that all the New York girls were wearing brooches this way, and I thought . . .”
Helen held her gaze for a moment, sufficient to indicate whose brooch this was really, but not long enough to instill any real remorse. She knew that she was inclined to give Eulah too much, rather than too little, leeway. Eulah had a way of making one see the absolute logic of her preferences, no matter how unorthodox. And she had to admit that the new maid they’d brought with them had a good eye for what was fashionable in hairdressing.
“Well,” she demurred, and Eulah laughed, placing her hand on her mother’s, knowing the battle was won before it started.
“Just remember, my dear, that for all that New York fashion, you’re a Boston girl,” Helen whispered, to Eulah’s puff of exasperation. This motherly remonstration dispensed with, the two Allston women paused at the top of the staircase, readying themselves.
Helen’s gaze traveled over her daughter for a final appraisal, wanting to ensure that everything was in its place before they swept down the stairs and into the first-class dining room. Under the netting Eulah’s liquid blue eyes glimmered with anticipation, behind which lurked something else that Helen struggled to identify. She peered closer. Determination, perhaps.
She was accustomed to seeing her youngest child determined. All her children were willful, of course, but Eulah had taken the Allston stubbornness and aimed it outward, at a world that she felt needed fixing, with the same alacrity that Helen’s two older children aimed inward, at themselves. Perhaps after all Eulah finally understood the opportunities available to her on this journey, even more than Helen had guessed.
Excerpted from the book THE HOUSE OF VELVET AND GLASS by Katherine Howe. Copyright (c) 2012 Katherine Howe. Published by Hyperion/Voice. All Rights Reserved.
Katherine Howe, author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, returns with a historical novel set in 1915 Boston, about a young woman reeling from the death of her mother and sister on the Titanic. Hoping to contact her lost family members, Sybil finds herself drawn to a séance-holding medium until the arrival of Ben, an old friend who quickly debunks the spiritualist. One thing he can’t debunk, however, is that Sybil herself has the ability to perceive the future. But what happens when she sees something she doesn’t want to accept?
Taking us from the opium dens of Boston's Chinatown to the salons of high society to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass is an intricately crafted tale, rich in history and heart.
Hardcover Book : 432 pages
Publisher: Hyperion, Walt Disney ( April 10, 2012 )
Item #: 13-519931
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.97inches
Product Weight: 15.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I quite enjoyed this book. The characters were enjoyable and it was a fast read. If you like history it was entertaining to read how Howe wound the characters around historical events during the turn of the century. The Titanic, the Lusitania, the Great War, and Opium dens kept the story moving with hints of feminism and racism included. The novel wasn't earth shattering, but I found myself sad to come to the end of the story.
This book was interesting- I actually learned a lot about that era- now I know what an opium den is- and how they did seances.....But other than that, it was a little boring in places. If you are very into Titanic, you may like it just for that reason although that is not the main part of the story.
Reviewer: Lauren R
It was a slow start. I especially liked the historical sequence with ship the Titanic and the other ship 3 years later. Good plot, but asI said a slow start.
Reviewer: Frances R
I could not stop reading this story. From the familiar streets of Boston and Cambridge, to the intriguing plot, I was pulled into a world I didn't want to leave. It felt strangely comfortable---almost as though I had visited the Allston home as a close family friend achingly sharing their tragedies,watching them self-destruct, then helping them heal again. Fascinating!