The House with the Stained-Glass Window

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Żanna Słoniowska

Translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Paperback - B-format - 272p - £8.99 - 24/01/2017 - 9780857057143

Amid the turbulence of 20th century Lviv, meet four generations of women from the same fractious family, living beneath one roof and each striving to find their way across the decades of upheaval in an ever-shifting city.

First there is Great-Granma, tiny and terrifying, shaped by a life of exile, hardship and doomed love, now fighting to keep her iron grip on the lives of her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter. Then there is Aba, arthritic but devoted; cowed and despised by her mother, her one chance of happiness thwarted and her hopes of studying painting crushed. Thirdly, Marianna, the brilliant opera star: bold, beautiful and a fearless crusader for Ukrainian independence, who is shot during a demonstration and whose life and martyrdom casts a shadow upon the young life of the fourth and final woman, her daughter.

More important even than these four women though is the character of the city of Lviv (or Lwów, or Lvov, depending on the point in history). A city of markets and monuments, streets and spires, where history and the present collide, civilisations clash and stories rise up on every corner.

The House with the Stained-Glass Window is remarkable, a gripping, Lvivian evocation of a city and a family across a long and painful century, at once personal and political, a novel of life and survival across the ages
— Philippe Sands, author of EAST WEST STREET
Few novels will engage the heart and mind as cohesively as this emphatic performance that triumphs through its depiction of the human stories overshadowed by history
— Eileen Battersby, Financial Times
Sloniowska writes subtly and beautifully - every phrase conjures up images, casting colourful lights just like the stained-glass window of the title
— Sylwia Chutnik
A city of women’s mysteries, and History, which the author constantly re-interprets. Zanna Sloniowska surprises and seduces
— Jaroslaw Czechowicz, Krytycznym Okiem
This story could only have happened in Ukraine. And then again it could have happened anywhere, because the blood on the blue-and-yellow flag is just the beginning of an intimate tale about four generations of women
— Zofia Fabjanowska-Micyk, Zwierciadlo
This novel was written as a challenge to crushing, cruel history; it arose from a desire to give a voice to the individual experiences of women. But at a certain point it turns in a direction contrary to its original ambitions, and the counter-history disappears in the fog of exploding smoke grenades
— Dariusz Nowacki, Gazeta Wyborcza