Heartfelt with a Touch of Magic: Read an Extract from A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Heartfelt with a Touch of Magic: Read an Extract from A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

HOUSE

You have arrived for a better life at the New House in the New Land. It has been a long journey, the first time you’ve ever been on an aeroplane. It was nerve-racking when they checked the suitcases at the airport, even though your family has next to no possessions, let alone anything to hide. You didn’t know what big meant until you saw the city with the glass towers that touched the sky, the suburbs with houses so close together. You tell yourself everything is going to be fine. The hardest part is over. You made it.

You’re all too scared to go inside. First Uncle could be in there. He insisted on a funeral as per the local customs of this land – one that possibly didn’t include the ritual of telling him he was now dead, so he might have come home unaware.

Ma Ma’s knuckles are white from grasping the yellow protective talisman with both hands. Ba Ba pretends superstitions are for ignorant people. He inserts the key into the door. He doesn’t turn the handle.

The rag doll that Ma Ma made out of an old rice sack is clasped tightly in your arms – you are much too old for her any more, but she’s all you have. You stare up at the huge white columns propping up the crumbly tofu triangle of a roof. The long drop down to earth from the winding stone staircase you have climbed creates the same scary feeling in your stomach.

You turn instinctively towards Ma Ma’s side as you used to do, to bury your face inside the folds of her dress. But now that she is huge with child, she has taken to gently nudging you away, so you pull back before she does.

‘I didn’t expect it to be . . . a mansion,’ says Ma Ma.

‘Houses in the New Land are all supposed to be big. I have been warned,’ replies Ba Ba.

You stare up, disorientated. You don’t know if the house is truly too big or if it’s only big because you’re used to living in a cramped space.

Long fingers of cactus reach all the way up to the second floor, covering the walls like hands on a face. Balanced on the roof at the very top is a third storey, a single room with a semicircular window like an open eye.

A light inside the window flickers on and then off again. A wink. No, it is just your imagination. But what a strange thing to imagine. You look over at your parents, but they don’t seem to have noticed.

The cold winter wind blows, an icy chill that none of you have ever felt before. The amber pane in the middle of the front door is frosted and blind. Ba Ba rattles at the handle, which appears to be stuck. Suddenly, it gives way and you all tumble into a musty darkness.

It takes your eyes a while to adjust. Soon you realise you are staring at a world made completely out of dark brown wood and motes of dust that float past your nose like magic.

Continue reading the extract here…

Reviews

Your Preview Verdict: A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Review | Preview

2 June 2021

Your Preview Verdict: A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Get Talking: Bookclub Questions for A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Review | Book Life | News

17 May 2021

Get Talking: Bookclub Questions for A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Raw and Real: Read our Review of A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Review | Our Review

11 May 2021

Raw and Real: Read our Review of A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

Synopsis

Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land, inherited from First Uncle who died tragically and unexpectedly while picking oranges in the backyard. Everything is vast and unknown to Meixing and not in a good way, including the house she has dubbed Big Scary. She is embarrassed by the second-hand shoes given to her by the kind neighbours, has trouble understanding the language at school, and with fitting in and making new friends. Her solace is a glasshouse in the garden that inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and all the secrets of her memory and imagination. Her fragile universe is rocked when tragedy strikes and Ma Ma refuses to face the world outside. Meixing finds herself trapped within the shrinking walls of Big Scary. Her parents said this would be a better life for them all, but it feels like the worst and most heart-breaking experience of Meixing's entire existence. Surviving will take all the resilience and inner belief of this brave girl to turn their world around.
Shirley Marr
About the author

Shirley Marr

Shirley Marr is a first-generation Chinese-Australian living in Perth and an author of young adult and children's fiction, including YA novels Fury and Preloved, and children’s novels Little Jiang and A Glasshouse of Stars. She describes herself as having a Western mind and an Eastern heart. She likes to write in the space in the middle where they both collide, basing her stories on her own personal experiences of migration and growing up in Australia, along with the folk and fairy tales from her mother. Arriving in mainland Australia from Christmas Island as a seven-year-old in the 1980s and experiencing the good, the bad and the wonder that comes with culture shock, Shirley has been in love with reading and writing from that early age. Shirley is a universe full of stars and stories and hopes to share the many other novels that she has inside her.

Books by Shirley Marr

COMMENTS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *