NEW NOVEL: Life of Glass

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Can a pandemic colour our view of God?

‘As I journeyed through each window, I couldn’t help but be moved by Amalric’s life to reflect on my own life.’
Rev Jason Powell, Greater Manchester

As recent news has reminded us, the Covid-19 pandemic and our response to it remain very much frontpage news. But if this shows their lasting impact on our lives, how much more must the terrible plagues of the Middle Ages have influenced the people they left behind – and even their understanding of God.

In her absorbing new novel, Life of Glass, Andrea Sarginson insightfully explores how the Black Death of the 1300s impacted people’s view of God and how this was reflected in churches’ stained glass windows – one of the primary mediums for teaching at that time. Through the experiences of Amalric Faceby, a young master glazier with ambitious dreams for the future, whom we met in her first novel Man of Glass, we see how the consequences of the plague in his life and the lives of those he loves change the way he sees both God and humankind. But when he seeks to express these changes through his work, will – and should – they be accepted?

A former theatre nurse and trained art historian, Andrea is well placed to give vivid and profound insights to the period. As she describes the protagonist’s masterful artistry, she brings alive the vibrant designs and the theological influences and personal events that shape his work. Running through the novel, we see the social upheaval and economic difficulties brought on by the recurring pestilence, and in Amalric’s brother we are presented with a very different way of responding to such challenging times, inviting us to question where we should put our faith.

Andrea comments, ‘I find history at its most powerful when, through literature, we experience it on a day-to-day basis through our protagonist’s eyes. But I could never have imagined when I started to write about an historical pandemic, the Black Death, that we were about to live through one ourselves, with all its fear of the unknown, its horrors for some, the controversies over how to deal with it, the wariness of others and the love that was also revealed. This second novel deals with the aftermath of the medieval plague just as we are now dealing with the aftermath of Covid.

‘I started writing fiction because I had a passion for the English medieval period – its art, the church in England at that time, and medicine – that I wanted to share. As an authorised lay minister in the Manchester Diocese, I write from a Christian perspective but my novels are not overtly Christian, rather they go some way to quietly revealing our Christian heritage and what it really means.’

For fans of historical fiction and art-lovers alike, Life of Glass is a rich, informed and moving novel for our times.

‘A vivid portrayal of her characters, imbuing them with cares of faith, love, health, sustenance and superstition in a way that I find intensely moving.’
Jane Townell, retired counsellor and member of Woodhall Spa Library Writers Group


Life of Glass by Andrea Sarginson (ISBN: 9781912726691) is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 17th March 2023 from bookshops and online retailers. Fiction, paperback, 304pp, £10.99.


  • Andrea Sarginson

    Andrea lives in Greater Manchester and since 2012 has been an Authorised Lay Minister in the Manchester Diocese. She first trained as a nurse, midwife and operating theatre nurse teacher, and later as an art historian with interests in Christian art and stained glass.

  • Life of Glass

    Andrea Sarginson

    Amalric and Edwin Faceby were still young men, ambitious to make their marks on the world, when the Great Plague of 1349 receded. But when recurring outbreaks brought further loss and unleashed social unrest, the brothers were driven apart, and master glazier Amalric was compelled to...