14,765 book reviews and counting...

Books in the Media Update

This website is no longer being updated; theBookseller.com is the home of all books related-content and will continue to be updated with regular articles about books featured in the media. Thank you for using this website, and we hope you join us on theBookseller.com.

Glass Town Reviews

Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg

Glass Town

Isabel Greenberg

4.33 out of 5

4 reviews

Category: Fiction
Imprint: Jonathan Cape Ltd
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publication date: 6 Feb 2020
ISBN: 9781787330832

The entrancing story of the Bronte sisters' childhood imaginary world, from the New York Times bestselling graphic novelist Four children: Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne have invented a world so real and vivid that they can step right into it.

5 stars out of 5
3 May 2020

"Isabel Greenberg has done something extraordinary"

Glass Town works so well because while the Brontës’ own story is absolutely devastating, the Glass Town scenes are full of fun. I loved Charlotte’s melodramatic heroine Mary Percy shrieking, all mouth and eyes: “If I don’t marry him… I. WILL. LITERALLY. DIE.” And I loved her father, Northangerland, wondering if he can use his daughter to revenge himself on his enemy. “NO! I love her!” he cries, but then, practically leaping like a bunny, he is revelling in his “dastardly plan”. As for Glass Town’s undoubted racism and imperialism, Greenberg has empowered two black characters, the Ashantee prince Quashia Quamina (a prototype for Heathcliff) and the bluestocking Zenobia, and given them exciting and very credible stories.


4 stars out of 5
18 Mar 2020

"Greenberg merges the biographical Brontë story with
the landscape of their juvenalia"

Greenberg’s illustrations are scratchy and childlike, but detailed and evocative too. Her drawing style is well suited to the fluid story structure, as she gracefully moves in and out of the Brontë dreamworld while the siblings struggle to choose between life and fantasy. Easily read in a single sitting, Glass Town might provide a kind of meta-escapism for a moment in time when many of us feel that fiction is brighter than reality. 

4 stars out of 5
22 Feb 2020

"This is a tale ... about the collision between dreamlike places of possibility and constrained 19th-century lives"

Greenberg blurs fiction and memoir: characters walk between worlds and woo their creators. Pivotal periods such as Charlotte’s schooling in Belgium, where she because obsessed with her tutor, a possible model for Mr Rochester, are omitted: instead Greenberg focuses on the delights and dangers of “an interior world that was brighter, more golden” than reality. And bright it is. Greenberg contrasts the tropical sky of Glass Town with the wind and rain of the moors, dim English interiors with pungent reds and yellows, picturing epic mountains and seas, lakes of ink and giant quills. Her protagonists look wonky but feel wonderfully real, lips tight with forbearance or smiles wide with joy, while the sharp, concise dialogue rings sad and true.

4 stars out of 5
14 Feb 2020

"The weird and wonderful world of the Brontës is brought to life in beautiful, blazing colour"

The wafer-thin line between Charlotte’s real and imagined life at this date, and her drug-like dependence on escape, finds perfect expression in these dreamy pictures. It’s a wonderful book. Greenberg is impressively well-informed about the Brontës, but handles her facts lightly, allowing full power to the beautiful and sensitive images. She knows exactly when to scale up a frame, or leave it wordless, and keeps coming back to Charlotte’s sad bespectacled face. “You made all this, Miss Brontë. This is your world,” Wellesley reminds her. It’s strange how moving these images are.