Lines to Love: The Glass Ocean: Caroline


The Glass Ocean is simply swimming with interesting characters. There’s John Langford’s lovable Luddite Uncle Rupert. There’s Patrick, Sarah’s great-granddad and steward on the Lustiania. There’s Prunella Schyler, the prune with absurd taste in hats. (She is aptly named.) However, I think the most complex character in the novel is truly Caroline Hochstetter. From start to finish, she goes through a variety of arcing emotions, and, true to Willig, Williams, and White’s talent, the progress of those emotions and the resultant actions feel very reasonable.

Caroline Hochstetter is a woman who has the world on a string sitting on a rainbow. The world is her oyster. She’s the envy of everyone. Beautiful. Talented musician. Filthy rich husband who adores her and lavishes her with everything her heart could desire. Yet, though she knows she should be deliriously happy, she’s not. She loves her husband, Gilbert, but she’s tired of him treating her like a hothouse orchid. While he sees his not sharing the events and news of the day with her as a way of sheltering her from the evils of the world, she sees it as stifling and restrictive. She wants to be involved in his life and his business. She wants to talk ideas and know the thoughts that invade his waking hours. But Gilbert Hochstetter doesn’t seem to understand that. In fact, his self-image suffers next to the glory that is his wife. He counts himself a man who lucked out to no end when she fell in love with him; worse, he doesn’t feel that he deserves her. The longer he tries to make himself worthy of her in his own eyes, the more he’s in danger of losing her all together.

You see, even though Caroline is the toast of good ole New York, she’s homesick for the Spanish moss draped oak branches. Is it the simplicity of the life she left behind that she yearns for? Or is it the shadow of a tall, handsome man that keeps adumbrating her joy?

That’s right. You guessed it. Robert Langford. The women do seem to swoon around him. Apparently such swoons run in his family (see post here to meet John Langford, great-grandson of Robert).

Years and years ago, when Caroline was a wilting violet at her first party, she supped too deeply of champagne and was sick in the rosebushes. Someone witnessed her distress. Not only witnessed it, but came running to her aid- an errant knight in slightly tarnished armor. That knight errant was Robert, and though Caroline was only sixteen years old, he fell in love with her sweetness and sincerity at that moment. Now, a decade on, he’s hopelessly besotted and thoroughly heartbroken. Caroline is unreachable. She’s married to Gilbert Hochstetter and madly in love with him.

But, as Shakespeare said- and I quote him on this a lot (see post here)- all that glisters is not gold. A few hours aboard the Lusitania and Robert learns that the woman who haunts his every waking hour- and his sleeping ones, too- has trouble in her paradise. Now, isn’t that a combination? Damsel in distress and errant knight?

Caroline finds herself torn between two men. And loving both of them, as Mary McGregor said, is breaking all the rules.


It would appear that the Lusitania isn’t the only thing being tossed by a tempest at sea. Caroline’s heart, as well as Gilbert and Robert’s respective hearts, take quite a bruising on the doomed voyage of the Cunard vessel. Turgid emotions roil and build to the culminating, razing moment when Caroline’s world is rocked.

She searches hither and yon to find an outlet for her frustrations and anxious thoughts, but they are only settled when she is seated before the ivories of a grand piano.


Music is her solace. Well, most of the time it is. Sometimes she’s inveigled to play for persons who should never- ever- try their voices at a musical career. Persons such as Prunella Schyler’s sister, Margery.


It’s rather unfortunate for Caroline that Margery coerces her to perform at a time when Caroline needs the solace and security that only comes from immersing herself in her music. She needs quiet. She needs a caesura (see post here), a selah moment (see post here). But when it comes, is it too late?

I wish I could tell you more, but it would just start to give things away, and I don’t want to do that. I will say that Caroline’s character was the one that surprised me the most, and, in the end, who I appreciated and respected on a level I did not expect.

I hope you’re intrigued enough to enter for your chance to win this novel. The Glass Ocean is enthralling from start to finish and the giveaway is still open. There’s only a few more days to enter. Good luck, dear readers, good luck.

If you’re wondering about the other two characters whose POV is featured in The Glass Ocean, then you’re in luck because there are two posts dedicated to each of them: Lines to Love: The Glass Ocean: Tess and Lines to Love: The Glass Ocean: Sarah. If you haven’t already, head over and meet them.