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The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

The Girl with Glass Feet (edition 2010)

by Ali Shaw (Author)

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7625519,266 (3.55)50
Strange things are happening on the remote & snowbound archipelago of St Hauda's Land. Unusual winged creatures flit around icy bogland; albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods; jellyfish glow in the ocean's depths - and Ida MacLaird is slowly turning into glass.
Title:The Girl with Glass Feet
Authors:Ali Shaw (Author)
Info:Atlantic Books (2010), Edition: Main, 300 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

  1. 10
    The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey (Becchanalia)
    Becchanalia: Same delicate language and imagery, a similar sense of wistful beauty and elements of magical realism.
  2. 10
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (jonathankws)

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English (54)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
In which a socially awkward youth finds himself attracted to a socially awkward woman (not, of course, really a girl) who is vitrifying from the ground up. That premise, oddly, doesn't lead anywhere romantically or even in friendship and soon enough becomes backgrounded as the novel concentrates on strangely coincidental mutual ancestors and acquaintances in their present and past. The book goes in too many directions, almost all of them are uninteresting; the protagonist goes on endlessly about his philosophy of photography, which is bad enough, but pure pleasure compared to a minor character's bug collection. The land in which they all live is troubled by a mysterious creature whose glance turns everything around it white, but nothing really is done with this except for it to function as a sort of deus ex machina at times. The author has decent facility with language, and his poetic descriptions can be striking, but overall this struck me as an uninteresting waste of time.. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | Oct 4, 2019 |
I gave up at around a third, as the main story was interesting but there were too many additional dull characters and sub-plots and LOTS about the marshlands and bog and so on
I liked the two central characters but it felt way too rambly to get into and I kept skipping paragraphs so gave up
1 vote AHouseOfBooks | May 24, 2019 |
This novel had some lovely lyrical writing, but I agree with other reviewers that it's much better suited to a short story than a full length novel. As a novel, I expect several things from the work: a coherent plot that progresses, dimensional characters, and an overarching theme/philosophy/statement I can glean from the pages. This novel had none of those.

Point the first: There were so many random plot bits that didn't go anywhere. Anywhere at all! No matter how long you read, no matter how hard you looked for connections, these little bits were set up as major plot points and then just disappeared into the ether.

Point the second: The male characters felt dimensional, but -- and this is a very large but -- the female character existed solely to be loved by men, and to be loved poorly. They had desires but no agency, no plan, no action. They were purely set dressing to lend color while the men gazed at their navels and waxed philosophical in their thoughts.

Point the third: The only overarching theme I can see is that men are so interesting that we should be entranced by their every thought, but we should never expect them to grow up or become functional adults.

This was a pick for my offline book club, and several of us found it difficult to get through, mostly pointless, and rather uninteresting. If it hadn't been a book club pick, I'd have chucked it when I reached the necrophilia bit. (Oh, did I fail to mention that? We get to look on as a male character fantasizes about how he'd like to "defile" a woman's corpse; out of love, of course, because he misses her so much.) And really, that does an effective job of summing up the book as a whole. ( )
  mediumofballpoint | Mar 4, 2019 |
It took me a little bit to get into the story, but once I did I had to finish it. I just really wanted to know if Ida would be completely turned to glass or if they would find a cure. It's such a strange concept, but it definitely grabbed my attention.

I like the awkwardness of Midas, it was nice to see. I love the awkward boys. Being a photographer myself I could relate to some of the things he was going through and what he thought when he looked through his lens. It was nice to have that aspect added to the story.

I felt bad for Ida. I really did. Throughout the whole novel I just wanted it to work out. It's a tragic story and I have a soft spot for happy endings. It breaks my heart when the guy doesn't get the girl.

I wish there would have been more of Denver. She seemed like a really sweet and interesting child. I think she would have had a lot more great and inspirational things to say. I almost just want a story all about her. I would read that, if it existed.

The flying bulls were an interesting thing to add to the story. I would have loved to see some drawings. I was always trying to picture them in my mind. But my imagination just couldn't do them any justice. I would love to see that scene in the barn of them flying around Midas and Ida in a film. I think it would be a pretty magical moment on screen.

( )
  Shahnareads | Jun 21, 2017 |
I honestly do not know where to start. How do I explain a book like this, how can I get you all to see the magic in it?

It is a strange tale about a girl, Ida who returns to St Hauda's Land in search for answers. Her feet are turning into glass, yes glass. She does not know why but she remembers a man who had mentioned glass bodies in the bog. Could he hold the answer? Here she meets Midas, a strange young man who loves to take photos, and they fall in love, slowly, awkward, but in love.

Perhaps you now see the strangeness in this book. Her body is slowly being transformed into glass, and when it finishes, well no one can live in a body of glass. These islands are a strange place. There is talk about a strange animal with white eyes, and this whole place seems to ooze strangeness. Like it is some kind of distant land far far away where these strange things can still exist, hidden away from the rest of the world. And the people here have grown used to them. Used to finding strange things like moth-winged cows.

It was a great story, hauntingly beautiful and sad. I felt like I was there, on this damp, cold island. The language took hold of this feeling and made me stay. It is not a happy story, there is coldness creeping in the edges of this book and there are a lot of unhappy people in it. Still it felt magical.

The story is not just a story, it jumps in time. We get to see Midas' dad, who wasn't a nice man, and who shaped who Midas is now. We also get to see Ida's past, and she hadn't a nice dad either. Their mothers seemed frail. And then there is the longing, both had mothers who others longed for. Lost passions, with more sad flashbacks. To understand the now, you have to understand the past.

I shall not forget the lovestory. Midas meets Ida, they see something in each other. The slowly move towards each other, and they seem so perfect for each other. But the clock is ticking, not only to find a cure, but for them to finally do something.

I liked Ida, I would not have been as brave as she was, to see my feet turn to glass would surely have driven me insane. And I had to love Midas, he was strange, but so lovable. I could picture him before me.

This is Shaw's first novel, and if he continues in this style then I am sure we will hear much more about him.

If I sum it up, it is like a strange fairytale, the girl with glass feet, and the awkward prince she meets.

Blodeuedd's Cover Corner: Simple and nice.

Reason for Reading: I picked this one from their catalogue and got it from the publisher.

Final thoughts: This is just a book you have to try for yourself. Words can't describe it....4

( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
The British novelist Ali Shaw has created a memorable addition to this fabulist pantheon in his gorgeous first novel, "The Girl With Glass Feet," a book reminiscent of such classic fantasies as Hope Mirrlees's "Lud-in-the-Mist" and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast sequence.
While the challenges facing Ida and Midas are real and affecting, it’s the look, the sound, and the scent of St. Hauda’s Land that stay with you after turning the last page of this beautiful novel.
added by tmspinks | editBoston Globe, Buzzy Jackson (Jan 10, 2010)
In myths and fairy tales, characters frequently shapeshift. Arachne becomes a spider. Midas’ daughter turns to gold. A frog winds up a prince. These stories speak to a persistent human concern: Our lives as we know them are temporary, subjected to merciless change. Merciless change is on full display in “The Girl With Glass Feet,” Ali Shaw’s fantastically imagined first novel. The story is as straightforward as the title suggests: Ida Maclaird, the book’s protagonist, has feet that are turning to glass.
added by jlelliott | editNew York Times, Robin Romm (Jan 8, 2010)
Shaw has worked the great tradition of European fairy tales and come up with an ingenious story so deft it defies the obvious label "quirky". Set on a fictional northern archipelago, the world conjured up is one of frozen beauty with small Arctic creatures melting into the snowbound woods. Into this landscape steps Ida MacLaird, whose body, beginning with her carefully concealed feet, is inexplicably turning to glass. Photographer Midas, estranged from his reclusive mother, is fixated on his hated father's suicide. Falling tentatively in love with Ida, he embarks on a desperate quest to save her. The key to Ida's predicament lies with the mysterious Henry, and the lovers are further thwarted by Ida's sinister, self-appointed guardian. A magical fable of fate and resignation.
But it is a novel that is rich with invention and imagination and if it is rather quiet, it is a satisfying quiet, like a long walk at midnight. And Shaw is young and his writing can only become even more accomplished with time. His name is now firmly on my "to be watched" list , and were there to be an equivalent of the Arthur C. Clarke Award award for British fantasy, I would hope to see The Girl with Glass Feet on its shortlist ahead of many of the books published this year by established novelists. Ali Shaw is a welcome and talented addition to the roster of British writers of SF and fantasy, and I look forward very much to seeing what he will do next.
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That winter there were reports in the newspaper of an iceberg the shape of a galleon floating in creaking majesty past St. Hauda's Land's cliffs, of a snuffling hog leading lost hill walkers out of the crags beneath Lomdendol Tor, of a dumbfounded ornithologist counting five albino crows in a flock of two hundred.
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Strange things are happening on the remote and snowbound archipelago of St Hauda's Land. Unusual winged creatures flit around icy bogland; albino animals hide themselves in the snow-glazed woods; jellyfish glow in the ocean's depths...And Ida MacLaird is slowly turning into glass. A mysterious and frightening alchemical metamorphosis has befallen Ida Maclaird - she is slowly turning into glass, from the feet up. She returns to St Hauda's Land, where she believes the glass first took hold, in search of a cure. Midas Crook is a young loner, who has lived on the islands his entire life. When he meets Ida, something about her sad, defiant spirit pierces his emotional defenses. As Midas helps Ida come to terms with her affliction, she gradually unpicks the knots of his heart, and they begin to fall in love...What they need most is time - and time is slipping away fast. Will they find a way to stave off the spread of the glass? "The Girl with Glass Feet" is a dazzlingly imaginative and gripping first novel, a love story to treasure.
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