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The Glass Ocean


The Glass Ocean

As a writer, I’m fascinated by the process and art of writing as a team. So much of writing is collaborative --- editors, early readers and critique partners brainstorming story points --- but with a team of three authors, I’d love to ask them how they do it. The novel, told from three different points of view, is seamless and a complete page-turner.

First, I have to give a shout-out to the opening scene, in which a book club of wealthy Manhattan women meet in a luxurious apartment wrapped in designer garments, teetering in high-end shoes, and being served by paid staff. One member announces proudly how none of them bought the book; they all downloaded it for free. Book piracy is stealing. Period. The end. I cheered for Sarah, the author visiting their book group, as she gave these ladies an earful of truth before leaving. (This scene was based on a real-life incident.)

"...seamless and a complete page-turner.... THE GLASS OCEAN is full of espionage, romance, mystery and unexpected twists."

Weaving between two timelines, THE GLASS OCEAN takes us from 1915 on board the RMS Lusitania to 2013, in Devon, England. It is full of mystery and keeps the reader guessing and wondering who can be trusted and who’s on what side. Questions drive the story right to the very end. Just as Tess thinks “Sometimes the best lies weren’t lies at all,” we are left to decipher which lies are lies, and which are truths. From codes in an unpublished Strauss waltz to secret telegrams, readers are compelled to figure things out alongside the characters in both periods.

Deceit and betrayal, traitors and patriots, con artists and society women, scandal and infidelity, metaphors and symbols --- THE GLASS OCEAN has it all. Full of quippy, playful and clever banter, I found myself chuckling out loud at times. The relationship plot lines are terrific stories of push and pull, unreciprocated desires, witty dialogue and clever observations. One such line, another from Tess, stood out and made me consider it: “It’s easy to love someone you can’t have. There’s no risk in it.” What do you think?

My first job out of college was in the buying offices at Lord & Taylor on 39th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City. As that flagship store is closing this year, my heart tugged a bit at the mention of B. Altman on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. Hat tip to the glory days of beautiful, grand department stores.

With any book I read, I must find meaning in the title. Take this passage: “The flat smoothness of the ocean reflected the brilliant blue sky like a looking glass, giving the illusion of endless heaven.” There’s a bit more for readers to uncover with this title, but I’ll leave that to you.

THE GLASS OCEAN is full of espionage, romance, mystery and unexpected twists. Readers are in for a fantastic read as they join the characters on the final voyage of the Lusitania.

Reviewed by Leah DeCesare ( on October 19, 2018

The Glass Ocean
by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White