The Glimmer Palace by Beatrice Colin
“The Glimmer Palace” is the story of Lilly Nelly Aphrodite, a young girl born illegitimately to a cabaret performer and a Bavarian count in Berlin in the first minutes of the year 1900. Orphaned before her second birthday, Lilly would have to figure out how to survive Berlin during World Wars I and II.
When I first started reading this book, I was a bit skeptical, partly because I hadn’t read the description on the back of the book. First of all, there were all of these references to old movies at the beginning of each chapter, and I simply couldn’t see how they tied in. In addition, towards the beginning the book seemed to me to be not exactly boring, but not super gripping either. Due to this, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I had read over 70 pages during my lunch hour, even though I had walked across the street for lunch, then walked over to the University to find a bench and continue reading.
I was even more surprised the next day when I found myself really starting to care about Lilly and her friend Hanna, and becoming very invested in their stories. I have seen some comments stating that what happened to them was simply one bad thing after another, but I thought that Colin portrayed Germany from the first half of the century very well. I felt that I could see Berlin, from its glory before WWI; to the deprivations during the war; to the devestation wrecked by reparations; to the build up of hatred, scape-goating, and Nazi power before WWII.
I would highly recommend this book to people interested in a good story, or wanting a representation of Berlin between the wars. The information about period movies did end up tying in very well towards the middle of the book, so I would also recommend this novel to those who have an interest in early film. Go ahead, try “The Glimmer Palace” and let it sneak up on you!