When Hadley Freeman found a shoebox filled with her French grandmother’s treasured belongings, it started a decade-long quest to find out their haunting significance and to dig deep into the extraordinary lives of her grandmother, Sala, and her three siblings, Henri, Jacques and Alex Glass. The search takes Hadley from Picasso’s archives in Paris to a secret room in a farmhouse in Auvergne to Long Island and to Aushwitz.
Hadley had only really known that her grandmother had met her American grandfather through her brother Alex in Paris, and that she travelled to America to marry him in the late 1930s. But by piecing together letters, photos and an unpublished memoir, Hadley is able to thrillingly recount the full story of all the Glass siblings – Alex’s past as a fashion couturier and friend of Dior and Chagall, trusting and brave Jacques, a fierce patriot for his adopted country, the brilliant Henri who hid out in place after place in occupied Paris – and about each of their bids for survival during the Second World War. She discovers her great uncles’ extraordinary acts of courage in Vichy France alongside her grandmother’s equally heroic but more private form of female self-sacrifice.
Addressing themes of assimilation, identity, and home this powerful story of the past explores issues that are deeply relevant today. A moving memoir following the journey of the Glass siblings throughout the course of the twentieth-century, House of Glass is a thrilling account of love, loss, family and belonging.
Hadley Freeman grew up in New York City and London. She has been a staff writer at the Guardian since 2000 and has contributed to many other publications, including Vogue (US and UK.) This her fourth book. She lives in London with her partner and their three children