Book Reviews

Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 256 Pages.

Published: 12 March 2015 by Picador

Edition: Reprints

ISBN: 9781447280026

EAN: 9781447280026

Lilia has been leaving people behind her entire life. Haunted by her inability to remember her early childhood, and by a mysterious shadow that seems to dog her wherever she goes, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and friends along the way. But then she meets Eli, and he's not ready to let her go, not without a fight.

Gorgeously written, charged with tension and foreboding, Emily St. John Mandel's Last Night in Montreal is the story of a life spent at the centre of a criminal investigation. It is a novel about identity, love and amnesia, the depths and limits of family bonds and - ultimately - about the nature of obsession.


3.0 Stars3.0 Stars3.0 Stars  by Anne

Melancholy and unsatisfying

I felt a bit cheated by this book. It was full of ideas and sub-plots but none of them were very well developed. The author hinted at things or mentioned something in passing which were part of the overall story arc and which I would have liked to have explored in more detail. It left me feeling unsatisfied whilst I could see that all the pieces join together to make a bigger story and can appreciate the author's skill in doing that.

The story is of Lilia who is being pursued by her ex-boyfriend Eli whom she left. Lilia spent her childhood on the run with her father for reasons she never really understood. The detective who was searching for Lilia gave his life to the pursuit. His daughter has been affected by the search as well. The author darts between these different stories and different times to build up the overall story although the denouement is not really a twist and I don't think is intended to be one - it feels inevitable.

This is a book with a melancholy air with characters whose lives we dip in and out of. It feels unresolved although, in fact, the stories are all finished but there is an overarching feeling of regret and lack of fulfilment that makes the book very downbeat. I found it unsatisfying

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Debra Found

Good Points & Not So Good Points

Lilia has been travelling for what seems like her whole life. She travelled from place to place with her Father as a child and when he settled down discovered that she just couldn't. She travels as an adult forging relationships and then leaving them behind.

I think this is one of those books where the author has a host of good ideas surrounding a basic plotline and tries to shoehorn them all into one book. The consequence is that there are too many characters with good sub-plots vying for the reader's attention and not getting enough depth from the author. The main plotline follows Lilia and her travelling both in the present day and in the past with her Father. The reason she is with her Father isn't fully explained until the end of the book where I suspect it was supposed to come as a great surprise - it didn't. We also have Eli, the boyfriend that Lilia has left who wants to know where she is. Add into the mix the private detective who is chasing Lilia and her Father and his story and there is just too much going on. Any of these could have made a good book on their own but with all of them in one book it got a bit overwhelming.

There are several issues addressed - well, raised rather than addressed - in this book - domestic violence, kidnapped children, desertion, obsession, adults damaged as children - none of which really got the attention that they deserved.

As I am sure you have gathered there is a great deal going on in this book and it does jump around between people and time periods (often without warning) making it slightly confusing. The main thread, however, following Lilia is comparitively simple with no really unexpected twists to make it special.

I know I sound very negative about this book but in some ways I really enjoyed it and was keen to see how it all came together at the end. The author is a very capable writer and I was able to conjure up the images of what was going on in my mind. I liked the way that the author ended this book even though some threads were left loose.

I am not sure that I would recommend this book but I am happy to recommend this author. She has ability to create a good book but didn't quite hit the mark with this one. Try reading "Station Eleven" by this author for a much better demonstration of her ability.

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