The Glass Château: A Novel
From the critically acclaimed author of Universe of Two and The Baker’s Secret, a novel of hope, healing, and the redemptive power of art, set against the turmoil of post-World War II France and inspired by the life of Marc Chagall
“[A] spellbinding fable of sanctuary, art, and recovery.” — Booklist (starred review)
World War II is over. Amid jubilation in the streets of France, however, there are throngs of people stunned by the recovery work ahead. Every bridge, road, and rail line, every church and school and hospital, has been destroyed. Disparate factions—from Communists, to Resistance fighters, to those who supported appeasement of the Nazis—must somehow unite and rebuild their devastated country.
Asher lost his family during the war, and in revenge served as an assassin in the Resistance. Burdened by grief and guilt, he wanders through the blasted countryside, stunned by what has become of his life. When he arrives at le Château Guerin, all he seeks is a decent meal. Instead he finds a sanctuary, an oasis even though everyone there is as damaged as him. The people there are calming themselves, and recovering inch by inch, by turning sand into stained glass, and then into windows for the bombed cathedrals of France.
The chateau is a volatile place, and these former warriors are as hard, and fragile, as glass. Each man carries secrets from the war too -- Asher has chosen to hide his Jewish faith so he will not be expelled by the devout Catholics who own the chateau. But all of the damaged men are guided by women of courage and affection. And Asher turns out to have a gift for making windows. As the secrets of the chateau’s residents become known one by one, they experience more heated conflict and greater challenges. Yet when they work together in common purpose, they put their fighting aside. And as Asher recovers, he finds a way to turn the recovery of broken men into the healing of a broken country.
Praise for The Glass Château: A Novel
"Kiernan extends his fresh approach to WWII fiction with this spellbinding fable of sanctuary, art, and recovery. . . . A dramatic and transfixing tale that responds to life's horrors by celebrating beauty, resiliency, and soulfulness." — Booklist (starred review)
"The fragility of the glass cradled in the hands of the artists, sensitive to the slightest tremor from outside, is a beautiful metaphor for the fragility of emotion in men and women who are grieving and healing. A marvelous and moving book." — Historical Novels Review
“A bittersweet story of beauty...Kiernan has written a lovely, moving elegy for those who were lost, and resilient survivors who long for redemption.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Stephen Kiernan has pulled off the nearly impossible, reminding us by wrapping a war story in a love story that although we hold the power for our own extinction, we also have the power to redeem, heal, and save. The most tender, terrifying, relevant book you’ll read this year.” — Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us, on Universe of Two
“Rarely does historical fiction get everything so right as Universe of Two: compelling characters, faithful detail, a story packed with unexpected twists, and a sure, authentic voice that never wavers. In this novel of the dawn of the atomic age and its profound consequences, Stephen Kiernan leads us along a journey of conscience as complex and infinite as the science itself.” — Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of Our Woman in Moscow
“Kiernan recreates the zeitgeist of America leading up to the atomic bomb on a national and personal level: the eager anticipation of wartime’s end, the grimly fascinating science, and the growing sense of guilt and dread. Simultaneously tender and hard-hitting, this riveting story offers much to reflect upon.” — Booklist on Universe of Two
“A great read. . . . Stephen P. Kiernan writes with heart and humor . . . [and] manages to balance serious historical questions and ethical issues with lively characters, sharp dialogue, and marvelous historical detail.” — Historical Novel Society on Universe of Two
“Based loosely on the life of mathematician and organ-maker Charles B. Fisk, this fascinating novel delves into the guilt and remorse that wracked him for his part in the development of the atomic bomb. . . . The two main characters are complex and flawed, but when they come together, their world is in harmony.” — Library Journal on Universe of Two