So many mixed emotions after finishing this. It was the source of a lot of internal debate, whether to give it a 3, 3.5, but heck I give this a 4 because, despite the several shortcomings that are clear while you're reading the book, "The Girl with Glass Feet" was a beautiful tale that made it so easy to overlook the aforementioned shortcomings. It's one of those books that I can understand some of the other readers' concerns, but they fall on a back-burner as this is the kind of book that demands an emotional response, to be felt more than it demands to be understood.
There is a slow, sleepy quality to the narrative that isn't common in books I've read lately. Shaw takes his time with the narrative and event development, spending a lot of time on creating atmosphere and developing the setting to the point where I felt I was seeing and breathing in St. Hauda's Land. I was incredibly happy to find out that it wasn't a real island because it helped preserve that magic in its little cocoon, in its perfectly-imperfect state that I sometimes wonder if it would be able to survive in the real world, in a real landscape. it's a modern-day fairy tale that is in no rush to deliver a mind-blowing or energetic punchline, that doesn't try to come up with a happy ending in order to preserve that childhood happiness mindset. It's very honest in its doom, but approaches it in such a tender way that makes the landscape become like a cushion that engulfs the characters and cradles their pain.
The narrative of this book is truly unique, told in third person distant and focusing on several characters throughout the course of the story that gave the kind of distance I like to have with the characters, making it possible to connect with them yet at the same time keeping that air of mystery that I think is very important to keep. At times it did feel a little dragged out, especially with Midas. He isn't your quick-witted protagonist - in fact, I doubt he even has a romantic bone in his body. Yet there's something charming about him, about his slowness and fearful state when it comes to Ida that was very fitting. Ida herself was a pleasure of a character, showing the extent of fear and hesitation that many don't like reading about in books and often demand a female character that would live up to a new strong standard. She was honest in her words and actions, which is what I loved most about her and Midas.
It was wonderful to see how interconnected all the characters were, even if it was through a network of affairs. I wondered whether or not it would be better for some threads to have been cleaned up a little instead of being left hanging, for instance Henry Fuwa and his magical cattle, or Emiliana's husband (he wasn't mentioned much so I forgot his name even). On the other hand that's another part of the book's charm. I loved the ending. I foresaw the end result but the way in which it was presented wasn't what I anticipated. It was very fitting and moving and that's why I let the hanging threads go. Let them continue hanging. The focus is on Midas and Ida and the nature of love, I think, and to see Midas evolve over the course of the story and to read that ending, it was very moving.
A charming and unique book that should be approached with an open mind, "The Girl with Glass Feet" has a lot to offer the literary world by presenting familiar ideas and themes in a new fashion that is memorable and moving.