Lines to Love: The Glass Ocean: Sarah


As you might know, Whiskers On Kittens is hosting a giveaway of The Glass Ocean, the newly released novel by Team W. Team W is the collaboration of three of my favorite authors: Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White.


I have long been a fan of Lauren Willig, gleefully gobbling up whatever she has to offer, particularly relishing her Pink Carnation series (see post here). It was through her that I met Beatriz Williams- well, her work. I started with A Hundred Summers (see post here), but have blissfully enjoyed every offering since- most recently The Summer Wives (see post here). Karen White is the newest addition to my reading rotation, but I’ve taken great pleasure in reading the first Tradd Street mystery. Roll those three recommendations together and you have me très excité when they write a novel together. A Forgotten Room was spectacular. Truly. I’ve re-read it twice. The Glass Ocean sails in the wake behind her flagship, meaning, quite simply, it’s a superb follow up by Team W.

The Glass Ocean starts in 2013 with Sarah. She’s a writer, having hit the scene several years back with her debut non-fiction work Small Potatoes. Having launched with critical acclaim and a New York Times ranking, Sarah has fallen on hard times. Her mother has early onset Alzheimers, and Sarah’s sunk every penny she has into making sure she has topnotch treatment. But things get worse. Sarah’s not only broke with bills in arrears, but she is completely stumped on her next book idea. And she really needs one. Did I mention she’s broke? But, she’s trying to keep her chin up, as you do. Like here when she come home after a harrowing encounter with the Upper East Side housewives:

I took the crosstown bus back home and made some mac and cheese from the box. Told myself that was okay because it was organic boxed mac and cheese. Told myself that at least they hadn’t gotten around to asking me what I was working on for my next book. Plopped on the sofa and toed off my wedges and picked up the remote. I had a few shows queued up on the DVR. Some history, some true crime. I told myself I’d be working, actually, because you never know where your next book idea might come from. You never know when inspiration might strike… Oh, the things you tell yourself.

Sarah’s desperation knows no bounds. So, she breaks her promise to her mother and opens the trunk of her great-grandfather who went down with the Lusitania. And in it she finds the strands of a mystery. Knotting them together, she finds herself rubbing her last pennies together to get across the Atlantic and facilitate an encounter with John Langford, the living ancestor of the man whose name she found in her great-grandfather’s trunk.

But John’s fallen on hard times. Sarah’s seeking him out— I think the more appropriate phrasing is stalking him out— and she’s having no luck approaching him. Not at the National Gallery. Not at the coffee shops.


And, as luck would have it, when she does get a chance to sit with John, he dismisses her. He’s churlish and irritated by all the attention he’s been getting, and he certainly doesn’t have time to entertain the ravings of a lunatic American. Or does he? Sarah’s brash American way is rather endearing, after all. Hop, skip, and jump to John’s ancestral seat complete with a library à la folly, and we’re in for it. (Confession: I have always wanted to erect my own folly; ever since I saw Frank Lloyd Wright’s folly Romeo and Juliet at Taliesin, I’ve wanted one.) Want a hint of what it looks like?

The Ancestral Seat:

The Folly:


Don’t you just love the alliteration in that one? Ran riot around the perimeter. Reminds me of that particularly fantastic lyric from The Slipper and the Rose- you know the one? Rainbows raced around the room…

It is in this Grecian folly- because, really, all follies should be Grecian- that we begin to unravel the mystery that took place aboard the Lusitania. And, as luck would have it, that mystery unwinds with John’s great-grandfather Robert Langford at the heart of it. Or, perhaps, more appropriate, it is who is in Robert Langford’s heart that is the key to the unraveling. But, their historical past isn’t the only thing unraveling in that folly.

You see, while John might be embroiled in a political scandal, his personal life is also in a shambles. He’s in the middle of a divorce from an absolutely drop dead gorgeous former model. Isn’t that always the way? As if Sarah needed to feel worse about herself. And, because John is that particular strain of British gentleman— you know, reserved to the point of taciturn and anti-social— Sarah can’t figure out if he’s still nursing a broken heart over her abandonment for another man.

I stared at John’s enormous figure propped on the edge of the sink. His head, struck by sunshine. His arms crossed over his chest, his legs crossed at the ankles. Everything crossed, not about to allow a single thing inside.

And when it comes to romance, Sarah is a little in over her head anyway.

When you attended an all-girl Catholic high school, you graduate with a fine, well-rounded education in pretty much everything except holding hands with boys.

But, perhaps it’s that very innocence that draws John out of his shell. In that folly on an island in the middle of the Langford ancestral seat, John slowly lets down his defenses, as does Sarah. They even kiss. It’s at this point that you sort of curse his ingrained gentlemanliness, though.

Instead of deepening the kiss, instead of swooping me into his arms and hauling me up the stairs like Rhett Butler— cue orchestra— he’d pulled away. He’d rubbed my cheek with his thumb, very gently, and said, Good night, Sarah.

And then there’s this stunning observation on her part:


For a few moments all is blithe and bonny. But, to borrow from Shakespeare twice in the same paragraph, all that glisters is not gold. Human frailty finds a way, and suddenly, not only the Lusitania is sinking, but so are John and Sarah’s hopes and dreams of a future together. Will they be able to convert their songs of woe into hey nonny nonny?

Well, I’d tell, but that would just be rude, wouldn’t it? However, if you’re intrigued, there’s still time to sign up for The Glass Ocean Giveaway.

And, if you’re interested in meeting Tessa Fairweather, a.k.a. Tennessee Schaff, who comprises a third of the story of The Glass Ocean, then head over to Lines to Love: The Glass Ocean: Tess. Or maybe you want to meet Caroline Hochstetter. You can find her at Lines to Love: The Glass Ocean: Caroline.