Through a Glass Darkly – A Review

August 16, 2012 at 6:46 am (Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I am reading from a first edition. Click the image to view the most recent book cover.

Title: Through a Glass Darkly

Author: Karleen Koen

Publisher: Random House

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 743 pages


Depressing. Intense. Captivating. Intriguing. Dramatic. I end this book exhausted.

Karleen Koen has effectively dragged me tooth and nail, screaming, begging to stop, through roughly 6 years (if I followed the timeline correctly) of Lady Barbara Alderly Montgeoffrey’s life.  It was long, excruciating, and well, brilliant.  I am so tired, feeling as though I lived through it myself, and wonder how Koen managed to write 700 pages of this 1700’s soap opera without bawling her eyes out daily.  The children die, the brother commits suicide, the husband has a male lover… can anything go right in this poor woman’s life? The only solace was knowing it was fiction, although I was constantly reminded of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire whose life was pretty awful and unfortunately true.

Even more, up until the last few pages, I wondered how on earth two more novels could possibly follow this one (I didn’t realize while reading that Dark Angels is a prequel, not a third piece of Barbara’s life).  But now, I find myself itching to get to the library or book store to see if the second book (Now Face to Face) is available.  What will happen to Barbara in Virgina?  It’s ridiculous how a book I whimpered through has me so captivated – guilty pleasure at its finest.  It seems I’m full of guilty pleasures lately, what with my recent Cassandra Clare binge.

I feel terrible reviewing this book, describing it so crudely.  Koen states on her site:

“This was such an innocent experience for me, writing without realizing others would read me and have opinions about everything. I’ll never be able to write with the innocence this book displays, but it’s my goal.”

and I don’t wish to be the person that adds to that loss of innocence.  The book is good, it really is.  Just probably isn’t the best of books to read while plodding through Les Miserables.  It makes it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the middle of a rough week!

I can’t wait to discuss this book with other readers, as this is the first official Half Price Books Humble Book Club pick.  Koen is a Houston resident, so I thought having a local author on the Book Club’s first set of titles would be both exciting and appropriate.  The meeting will be held September 3rd from 8 – 9pm, led by yours truly, and I’m getting very antsy.  There’s still time to pick up a copy and read the book in time to join the discussion! You won’t be sorry, and there will be more exciting event announcements for September to come… So stay tuned, and start enjoying your Karleen Koen binge now.


  1. Where Do You Find Hope? | Austin Mystery Writers said,

    […] Through a Glass Darkly – A Review […]

  2. Adventure in the Far West | To write is to write is to write said,

    […] Through a Glass Darkly – A Review […]

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