One of our recommended books is The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson

THE GLASS FOREST


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller comes a gripping literary suspense novel set in the 1960s about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths.

In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her Wisconsin hometown. At twenty-one, she’s married to charming, handsome Paul, and has just given birth to a baby boy. But one phone call changes her life forever.

When Paul’s niece, Ruby, reports that her father, Henry, has committed suicide, and that her mother, Silja,

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller comes a gripping literary suspense novel set in the 1960s about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths.

In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her Wisconsin hometown. At twenty-one, she’s married to charming, handsome Paul, and has just given birth to a baby boy. But one phone call changes her life forever.

When Paul’s niece, Ruby, reports that her father, Henry, has committed suicide, and that her mother, Silja, is missing, Angie and Paul drop everything and fly to the small upstate town of Stonekill, New York to be by Ruby’s side.

Angie thinks they’re coming to the rescue of Paul’s grief-stricken young niece, but Ruby is a composed and enigmatic seventeen-year-old who resists Angie’s attempts to nurture her. As Angie learns more about the complicated Glass family, staying in Henry and Silja’s eerie and ultra-modern house on the edge of the woods, she begins to question the very fabric of her own marriage.

Through Silja’s flashbacks, Angie’s discovery of astonishing truths, and Ruby’s strategic dissection of her parents’ state of affairs, a story of love, secrets, and ultimate betrayal is revealed.

Read our interview with the author on the Reading Group Choices blog!

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  • Simon & Schuster
  • Hardcover
  • February 2018
  • 352 Pages
  • 9781501172090

Buy the Book

$25.99

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About Cynthia Swanson

Cynthia Swanson is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Bookseller. An Indie Next selection and the winner of the 2016 WILLA Award for Historical Fiction, The Bookseller has been translated into a dozen languages. Cynthia has published short fiction in numerous journals and been a Pushcart Prize nominee. She lives with her family in Denver, Colorado. The Glass Forest is her second novel.

Author Website

Praise

“The mystery in The Glass Forest is a solid whodunnit, but this novel is so much more. It’s both an atmospheric suspense and a gripping multi-generational saga, all infused with the bleak desperation of the post-war era. Brazen and courageous heroines show, with unflinching honesty, the ugly sexism that could fester inside a mid-century marriage. A rich and unforgettable read!”Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Blackbird Season

“There is no safe place to turn and no one to trust in Cynthia Swanson’s stirring new thriller, The Glass Forest. Readers will be captivated by this haunting post-war tale of secrets, manipulation, and lost innocence. With a cast of utterly unique and fearless female characters, Swanson turns traditional family relationships upside down to reveal the darkness that lies beneath.”Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Two-Family House

The Glass Forest is the story of three strong women in the 1960s, one of whom has disappeared. Part family saga, part mystery, part coming of age, this richly detailed historical novel is both a fascinating portrait of a woman’s life during this time and a meticulously plotted thriller. I absolutely devoured this gripping and beautifully written novel.”Jillian Cantor, author of Margot and The Lost Letter

Discussion Questions

1. What is the significance of the opening scene of The Glass Forest, where baby PJ nearly falls out of the canoe?

2.  The Glass Forest takes place in the decades following World War II, a time of major transition for women in the United States. How do the political and cultural shifts influence the female characters in the book? Would you consider them feminists? Why or why not?

3. Why do you think Henry refused to give Silja a divorce? How do you think Henry and Silja’s story would differ if it were set in the modern day?

4. In 1950, Silja considers taking Ruby and running off in secret, hoping Henry won’t try to find them. How might the characters’ lives have unfolded differently if Silja had made that choice at that time?

5. The book contains many descriptions of the Glasses’ home décor, cleanliness, and style. Why do you think the author chose to include these details? What do the descriptions reveal about the characters?

6. Henry becomes obsessed with the need for a family bomb shelter. What drives this obsession? If the story were set in modern times, are there other ways Henry might have attempted to protect his family instead?

7. Discuss the characters’ religions. How do religious traditions influence the actions of Angie, Ruby, and Shepherd? How does religious heritage impact Silja’s, Paul’s, and Henry’s choices?

8. Jean Kellerman tells Angie, “The police won’t investigate based on a reporter’s speculation” (p. 283). Why do you think the police suspect Silja of murdering Henry?

9. What role does Miss Wells play? What does Ruby learn from her teacher? In what ways does Angie learn from Miss Wells?

10. Compare Angie at the beginning of the book to Angie at the end of the book. How does she change, and what inspires the change?

11. Describe Angie and Ruby’s relationship. How does it evolve, and what causes the shift?

12. Describe Ruby and Shepherd’s relationship. How does it differ from Ruby’s relationship with her father?

13. Do you think Ruby made the right decisions regarding her father and uncle? Why or why not?

14. What significance does open water hold for Silja, Angie, and Ruby?

Interviews

Read our interview with Cynthia Swanson on the Reading Group Choices blog!