The House of Velvet and Glass is set in Boston in 1915 with frequent flashbacks to April 1912 and 1868. The story is about Sibyl Allston, her father and her brother after the sinking of the Titanic which Sibyl's mother and sister were on.
Helen Allston and her daughter Eulah, have just complete a grand tour of Europe. Eulah is the youngest of the Allston children and she and her mother are headed back to the U.S. on that most modern of marvels, the Titanic. Sybil is back in Boston with her father (Lan), and her brother, Harley, is at school. Sibyl is 27 and still unmarried - the man she loved having married another woman.
When the Titanic sinks, it sends the Allston's into a grieving tailspin. Helen had frequented a spiritualist named Mrs. Dee and Sibyl continued to go hoping to reconnect with her mother and sister. Mrs. Dee gives Sibyl a glass orb to help her "see" her mother at home. When Harley suddenly arrives home from school and a woman named Dovie arrives the next day annnouncing Harley has been badly beaten, Sybil withdraws even more into the spiritualism life. One of Harley's teachers, Benton Derby contacts the family, adding to Sibyl's dismay. Benton is the man Sibyl loved who married another woman. Through all this, Sibyl continues to look into the glass orb hoping to see her mother and sister. She sees more than she ever thought she would.
Normally I don't like books that jump around in time. In this book it works beautifully, adding background and layers to the main story line. While Sibyl is not the most sympathetic of characters, you can feel how lost and lonely she actually is dealing with her selfish brother and her detached father. This book is well written and the story was interesting. I recommend it.