Richly imagined portraits celebrating three historical women—including Goya's muse—by an "outstanding writer" (Vaclav Havel).
In "a unique voice that owes as much to Kundera as to Flaubert, to Hasek as to Tolstoy," Czech writer Monika Zgustova brings to life the stories of three remarkable women in different countries and eras who defied the social restrictions of their day to find freedom of creative and personal expression (Juan Goytisolo, author of Exiled from Almost Everywhere).
On her deathbed in the royal court of eighteenth-century Madrid, the Duchess of Alba, lover and portrait subject of Spanish painter Francisco Goya, recalls the passions of her youth. Living in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the nineteenth century, Bozena Nemcova defies the protocols of her arranged marriage and pursues love and the life of a published writer—until her readers condemn her as a danger to society. In 1922, writer Nina Berberova escapes persecution during the Russian Revolution and flees to Paris with poet Vladislav Khodasevich, where the intelligentsia naively covet the promise of the Soviet Union.
Each woman attempts to pursue a life of passion, intimacy, and creativity in worlds that rarely accommodate female desire and ambition. In praising Goya's Glass, Vaclav Havel said: "Monika Zgustova's concerns are close to my own: the fate of the individual in the hands of totalitarianism. She is an outstanding writer whose fiction invokes the politics and culture of people throughout history."