Friday, 1 September 2006

The Glass Room by Kate Holmquist

The Glass Room
Kate Holmquist
(Penguin Ireland €??)

Synopsis: Louisa wakes up on her 37th birthday and ditches her womanising husband. Then she goes off to photograph a happy wedding party. It’s the start of a journey where she sets out to right all that’s wrong in her life.

SELDOM has a more unpleasant heroine been written than Louisa Maguire, who starts out this story by coolly determining to divorce her husband – and take the house that he got from his mammy.

All’s fair when love turns to war, after all.

Louisa is superwoman: brought home to philandering Ben’s dank Dalkey home from her Manhattan life, she turns it into a beautiful place. She supports herself and their children, while Ben flits around the world sleeping with everyone and selling his art films.

She lives in a media world. Louise herself is an arty photo portraitist; her best pal, Becca, is a groomer who teaches ex-IRA members and other personalities how to present themselves for TV, seminars and the newspapers.

So when Ben starts fighting dirty she’s not really up against it. Especially when a long-lost aunt leaves her an art collection and a lovely home in America.

But she’s soon having that “Daddy and I both love you very much” conversation with the kids; and a friend is not only very ill but fancies the knickers off her, making her feel really guilty. Life is complicated.

Then two figures from her wealthy, dysfunctional childhood appear back in her life. And she starts to have feelings for her childminder.

Cocaine is a ghostly presence in the story – in the sexually used younger days of Louisa, and in the new freedom of the divorced woman who’s spending her money on sexy clothes and the pulling power they purchase.

And old loves and new star in lots of sexy encounters, from the days when Louisa was ‘Pussy in boots’ to the sophisticated, hard, underconfident woman of the present.

True love appears – but how true can it be, with Louisa’s memories of her teens in the ‘glass room’ where all her illusions were shattered?

An elegant book for Celtic Tiger Ireland, Kate Holmquist’s second novel is as hard as diamonds, with the same glitzy glitter.