Book Title: The American Lady (The Glassblower Trilogy #2)
Book Author: Petra Durst-Benning
Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)
Synopsis: “Tempestuous and beautiful Wanda Miles, daughter of Ruth and Stephen Miles (or so she thinks), aspires to more than the life of a debutante, but the trouble is she doesn’t know precisely what she wants. Then her aunt Marie, the family’s renowned glassblower, arrives from Lauscha, Germany, and Wanda decides that learning about her ancestry may hold the key to her future. When Marie accidentally reveals a long-held secret about Wanda’s parents, Wanda goes to Lauscha to unravel the truth.
While Marie finds herself increasingly swept up in New York City’s bohemian social scene—catching the eye of a handsome young Italian in the process—Wanda explores a past she never knew in the village of her mother’s youth—and begins to build a life that she never expected.
A sweeping tale that takes readers from the small town of Lauscha to the skyscrapers of New York and the sun-kissed coast of Italy, The American Lady is a tribute to the enduring power of family and what we’ll do in the name of love.”
I think my expectations were just too high for this follow up to a book that I consider one of my all-time favorites, The Glassblower. A lot of the things that I really enjoyed about the first book in this series were noticeably missing from this installment. In the first book, I really enjoyed reading about the glassblowing process, and the town of Lauscha in Germany, and the relationships between the three Steinmann sisters. All of those elements were either given in sparing amounts, or were missing altogether in this sequel. In fact, the most engaging parts of this novel didn’t even begin until about a third of the way into the story.
This volume focuses very heavily on Marie, the youngest of the Steinmann sisters, and on her niece, Wanda, the daughter of Ruth Steinmann. About 17 years have past since the events of the first book, and Marie wakes up on her 36th-ish birthday feeling restless. For years, her art has been her whole life, but lately she has been feeling uninspired. On the advice of an old friend, she travels to America to see her sister, Ruth, for the first time in almost two decades, and becomes swept up in the New York art scene, and takes in the culture and beauty of the big city. She ends up taking an Italian lover, who I did not at all care for. I was pretty surprised that she so quickly forgot about the man who had been her partner for nearly two decades, while following her new beau to Italy on a whim to start a new life.
Where in the first book Ruth was a sweet, hopeless romantic, she and her husband Steven are now fixtures of New York’s high society. This Ruth is a far cry from the strong woman we were introduced to in book one, who risked everything to leave her abusive husband and protect her infant daughter. This Ruth is more concerned with planning elaborate parties, and spending countless hours shopping on 5th Avenue. She has never told her daughter, Wanda, the truth about who her father really is, and completely mishandles the situation when Marie does accidentally let the truth slip.
Johanna was probably my favorite character in the last book, and she was noticeably absent for most of this volume. Luckily, I really began to like Wanda’s character and enjoyed watching her transformation in this story. In the beginning, Wanda is a little aloof and spoiled, and seems to be struggling to find her own way in the world. She quickly forms an intense bond with her aunt when Marie comes to visit. Marie is also really instrumental in helping Wanda cope with discovering the truth about her father, especially since that was a topic that Ruth refused to discuss. But when Marie essentially abandons Wanda to follow her new boyfriend, Wanda courageously makes the decision to travel to Germany on her own to learn more about her roots, and begins to find herself.
I can only really recommend this novel to true fans of the first installment; if your feelings about The Glassblower were lukewarm, then you should definitely pass on this one.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.