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The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin

The Glimmer Palace (edition 2008)

by Beatrice Colin

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2741741,869 (3.68)18
Title:The Glimmer Palace
Authors:Beatrice Colin
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2008), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library, To read, Review Books To Read
Tags:2008 Advance Reader's Edition(ARE), Early Review(Riverhead), Historical Fiction

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The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin

  1. 00
    The Songwriter by Beatrice Colin (Sukisue7)
    Sukisue7: The new book from the author of 'The Glimmer Palace'.
  2. 00
    The Sister by Poppy Adams (BookshelfMonstrosity)

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English (15)  Dutch (2)  All languages (17)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Superficial book fiend that I am, I confess that I chose this novel without a clue as to the subject simply because of the garish but eyecatching cover, which reminded me of Tretchikoff's painting. However, although it's true that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, I wasn't disappointed. Beatrice Colin is a stunning writer, weaving poignant imagery into a bleak landscape of history, and redressing her own ignorance of time and place through the fictional biography of a German film star.

Lilly Nelly Aprhodite is born in Berlin at the end of the old century, but takes her first gasp of breath on New Year's Day, 1900, 'as if she was determined to wait'. Her parents, an actress and her Bavarian lover, make a suitably dramatic exit, and baby Lilly is raised in an orphanage where she finds Sister August, an inspiring role model, and Hanne Schmidt, her broken yet resilient best friend. Growing older with the twentieth century, Lilly is raised on a promise, like the future of Berlin itself, but is left to survive as best she can. The poverty and hunger experienced during the First World War continue in peace time, and Lilly is abandoned, neglected and abused time and again, with only Hanne's dubious company to fall back on. The two of them muddle through, with Lilly employed as a maid for a depressive countess and then working with Hanne in a 'tingle-tangle' nightclub, before being 'discovered' and launched into a briefly successful career as a film star. Lilly's life is intertwined with Berlin, and the rise and fall of the city between the wars, but also with the fate of two men who love her: a bashful soldier during the First World War, and the noble Russian who starts Lilly on the path to stardom.

It is hard to do justice to the powerful intimacy of this novel merely by describing the plot, because Lilly's 'luminous life' is part history and part fairy tale. Like the author, I have learned so much about Berlin between the wars, but Beatrice Colin's beautiful writing tempers harsh truth with her poetic phrasing: 'The city was full of the newly wed and newly widowed, half dressed in white, the other in black'. Even though Lilly's story is definitely depressing, and slowly paced for much of the book, I found myself almost instantly caught up in the narration and content to simply read and learn. ( )
1 vote AdonisGuilfoyle | Oct 31, 2010 |
Lily and Hannah. Germany and 1st WW ( )
  Mumineurope | Aug 14, 2010 |
Lilly Nelly Aphrodite wordt geboren op 1 januari 1900 in Berlijn. Ze groeit op in arme weeshuizen. Uiteindelijk wordt ze één van de grote sterren van de stille film. Haar levensverhaal speelt zich af tegen de achtergrond van de crisis van de jaren dertig en het uitbreken van de tweede wereldoorlog.
Elk hoofdstuk begint met een sfeerbeeld uit de filmwereld, bijvoorbeeld een draaidag van Asta Nielsen of een beschrijving van het uitgaansleven en bioscoopbezoek, dat in de jaren dertig hoogtij vierde. Het boek is niet zozeer hoogstaande literatuur maar wel een zeer onderhoudende sfeertekening van het dagelijkse leven en de filmwereld in de roerige eerste helft van de vorige eeuw. ( )
  23dingenvoormusea | May 2, 2010 |
Ever since I watched the German silent film Metropolis last year, I've been deeply fascinated with the early film industry. This novel follows Lilly Aphrodite from the dawn of the 20th century to the eve of World War II and gives readers an intimate glimpse into the world of Germany in the throes of World War I and the decadence of the 1920s German film industry.

An interesting facet of the novel that sets it aside from other historical fiction is the structure. At the beginning of every chapter, the author opens with short unconnected stories about the German film industry and an accompanying photo from turn of the century Germany. I love historical fiction because it is an imagined story based on real events. These vignettes and photos help connect the reader with the era and the characters.

Besides All Quiet on the Western Front, this is the first book I've read set in World War I. Reading about the complete devastation of the citizens of Germany in a textbook is one thing, but reading about it from the standpoint of Lilly personalizes the loss and poverty that was so widespread and gives the reader a glimpse as to how these circumstances led to the rise of Hitler in the '30s.

For fans of historical fiction as well as the history of cinema. ( )
1 vote BookshelfMonstrosity | Dec 18, 2009 |
Don't tell me someone is fascinating. Fascinate me. ( )
  picardyrose | Nov 10, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
The storytelling is masterful and the language magical. The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is a rich book, in both its prose and in the strength of its characters, whose lives cross in the chaos of war and its brief, glittering aftermath.
The contrast between the narrative glamour and the historical grit can feel unsustainable at times and the extravagance of Colin's style suits Lilly's early years best, when it reflects the frantic creativity and carelessness of that era. Later, when Lilly becomes famous, the story gets swallowed up by the unreality of the film clichés it's playing with.
[T]hese pages shimmer and swell with the glamour and decadence of the era. . . Full of suspense, this is an all-feeling novel, seductively and dramatically told.
[D]eftly capturing the era’s sense of frenzied invention and seductive promise. . . Colin often writes with a supple, whimsical charm. . . But what can appear artful frequently devolves into artificiality.
added by christiguc | editNew York Times, Mike Peed (Sep 14, 2008)
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Published as The Glimmer Palace in the US, as The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite in the UK.
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This novel tells the story of an orphaned daughter of a cabaret dancer and her rise from poverty and anonymity to film stardom, all set against the rise and fall of Berlin, the background of WWI, the debauchery of the Weimar era, the run-up to WWII, and the innovations in art and industry that accompanied it all.… (more)

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