The Glass Forest

The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson

So I work at the library and I process the incoming books, getting them ready to go out on the shelves. I did this one and was so interested in it, but decided to wait until it came off the New Shelf.

The book starts in 1960 with Angie Glass, but flashes between her, Ruby in 1960, and Silja Glass in 1942-1960. The three stories intertwining.

Angie Glass has grown up Catholic in a large family, never leaving her hometown in Wisconsin. There she met the handsome, older, bartender and painter-Paul Glass. The two begin dating, and then when she is pregnant-get married.

Angie has never met Paul’s family-his mother and father being dead, and his only sibling-older brother Henry, wife Silja, and daughter Ruby-all live in Stonekill, NY.

At the wedding Angie felt a sort of jealousy about Ruby and Paul’s close relationship, but knows it is just because she feels left out. Henry and Silja barely speak to her.

A few months later, their baby Paul Jr., P.J. for short was born and the three have been leaving an idyllic life. That is until Ruby calls and tells them that her mother is gone and her father is dead.

The three fly out to Stonekill and to the amazing, modern, glass house built by Silja. Angie tries to be there for Ruby, but she is a strange bit of a thing that wants to stay mostly by herself. Paul deals with the police, funeral arrangements, etc. Angie spends most of her time in the house.

While cleaning, she starts to wonder at Silja’s “disappearance”, questioning her leaving behind her daughter and items necessary for running away. As she continues to search she discovers that she might not know the man she married.

Silja is a young girl in college, living in a Swedish commune in Brooklyn. She meets handsome Army private, Henry Glass, and falls so deeply in love. They are married, have one night together, and he is gone. He finds some time to come back, but all they do is meet in hotel rooms until he is shipped off to fight in WWII.

Silja gets pregnant and her mom helps her-encouraging her to stay in school and study, just in case Henry doesn’t come back. Ruby is born and Silja studies, while dreaming of when she will be a stay at home mother and wife and three will live all together, more children following.

Henry returns from war having been wounded “down there”. Things should have gotten better but Henry refuses to do anything. No more contact just sleeping in bed next to each other. He also refuses to work, with Silja having to pick up the slack.

This continues in their lives as they move to Stonekill, with Silja having to travel every day to work to provide for them and spend her nights alone as Ruby is usually heading to bed and Henry is off doing his thing. Henry does “projects” sometimes cooking, cleaning, repair work but nothing to help the household.

Instead he abuses her-financially by trying to control all her money, verbally, mentally, constantly being jealous. Silja enjoys her work as it allows her to be free from her husband. She tries to figure out a way to divorce, but Henry won’t let her go and if she tried going to court he would end up with the money and their child. What to do? Did she decide running away was the only answer? Would she leave her daughter to be with that demented man?

Ruby is blonde like her mother but takes after her father in her thin body and dark eyes. She spends a lot of time alone, not having any friends. She sneaks out every night and roams the woods, meeting up with a much older man by the name of Shepherd. Ruby knows more than what she is telling about what happened to her father and mother-but what happened?

Thoughts after reading

I loved it. I couldn’t put it down as I had to turn the page each one to find out what happened next.

I strongly recommend, read it!

Read it today!

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to He’s Gone

For more abusive relationships, go to The Wife Between Us

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.