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Last Night in Montreal

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  3,579 Ratings  ·  645 Reviews
Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession. In this extraordinary debut, Emily St. John Mandel casts a powerful spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world -- charged with an atmosphere of mystery, promise and foreboding -- where small revelations continuously ...more
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published June 3rd 2009 by Unbridled Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Andrew Smith
Sep 04, 2015 Andrew Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First we meet a couple, Lilia and Eli. We learn little of them before they part – Lilia sneaking off without warning. She won't be coming back. From here we get snapshots of Lilia’s life before Eli. She’s a traveller, that’s to say she doesn't stay anywhere for long. She meets men, and sometimes women, striking up short term relationships before moving on again. Why does she do this? Well, the answer is revealed in a fractured narrative that sometimes left me confused but ultimately knitted ...more
Apr 10, 2010 Gillian rated it it was ok
Two stars doesn't seem like very many for a book that an notoriously slow reader (moi) spent basically just one Saturday reading and maybe I would give it three but I'm still a little annoyed by the ending. I have to agree that the structure and pacing of this mysterious non-mystery book is impressive and clearly a breezy and interesting read. However, it also contains one of my least favorite stock characters -- stock character is too harsh -- in fiction. Oh Lilia of the short dark hair who is ...more
Patrick Brown
Mar 10, 2009 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2009
The best debut novel I've read in years. Mandel writes with confidence and creates compelling characters around dark secrets and half-forgotten memories. This is the kind of book that stays with you long after it's over.
George Pence
Jul 24, 2011 George Pence rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a terrific book.

Let's start with the premise, a young man in New York wakes up with the woman he loves, and whom he thinks he knows quite well. Then, in a way that is normal and routine, she announces she's going to pick up a few items at the corner store. However, she does not return. No note, no phone call, nothing. Soon he discovers that she's traveled to Montreal, but there's no evidence she plans to come back, or even that she plans to stay in Montreal.


I guarantee,
Mar 20, 2016 Amena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'How deep in our genes is the longing for flight embedded? We always were a species of nomads.

Absorbed from page one. Never wanted to put it down. Finished in a few days but I could easily have finished it in one.
Not your average book about a girl that goes missing. Intertwined with themes of love, kinship, friendship, family and being thankful. No wonder I loved Station Eleven if this is how good her first book was. A whopping 5 stars and worthy of every one.
Sep 19, 2011 Elyse rated it really liked it
I'm in *aw* of this new young author. She's intriguing to me. Her book was beautifully written (SO CLEAN ---not filled extra junk). At times, I read her sentences 'over & over', (almost a poetic style)--- JUST lovely choice of words!

"Her voice was somnambulant" ....."her voice was a current through fitful dreams" ----[well, I'll tell ya....I had my own 'nightmare'---involving rushing waters-- after thinking about this section of the book]....NO KIDDING--- Then restless sleep ---(woke thinki
Feb 15, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it
I am dumbfounded that this is a debut novel. The pacing is impeccable, the characters are intriguing and well developed. The details the author chooses to highlight are poetic and evocative, and the paragraphs are well crafted. My one critique (and this has nothing to do with the author) is that the cover image is a little TOO specific to the story. I might have chosen something from the earlier part of Lilia's story, like a stark motel room or the isolated payphone, something that captures a ...more
Jan 12, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2016
Lilia is a wanderer. She can remember nothing before the age of seven; her memories exist from the night when her father took from her mother. Her life has been one of perpetual motion ever since, nights spent in anonymous motel rooms and days spent hiding on the back seat of her father’s car, as they travel back and forth across North America. She occasionally leaves cryptic notes in the bibles in the rooms, and has a nagging feeling of being followed, but being the centre of an abduction case ...more
Micheal Fraser
Jun 05, 2010 Micheal Fraser rated it it was amazing
This novel is why I became a bookseller and why after 23 years I remain one. To come across a gem like this makes slogging through many many other books we read, ones that may be goodish,or ordinary or even bad, all worthwhile. Her voice captivated me from the start and the way the story unfolds kept me reading it compulsively.

I have started to read aloud to the dogs in the mornings (don't judge - I am not crazy but reading aloud makes me slow down and listen to the language) and started them on
Aug 01, 2016 Jana rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible, book-club
I was drawn in by the story right from the start. So many questions about what happened to Lilia and why she can not stop moving from city to city. And it continued to satisfy and intrigue me all the way through to the ending.

A common theme for me, but again I loved the structure of the novel, moving back and forth in time.

NOTE: Audible version. Recommended!

Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Intense! That's what I thought once I turned over the last page. I read this right after White Oleander, so my mind is now in a huge philosophical introspection phase!

My opinion
Last Night in Montreal is a story that masterfully interweaves several complex elements. Lilia has been traveling for years, ever since her father abducted her from her home, when she was seven. For a long time, Lilia and her father were on the road. They kept moving from town to town. Lilia soon learned to read a map, ho
Jun 23, 2016 Bandit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved Station Eleven and was very interested in reading more books by the author. So now I'm reading them in reverse in a way, started with her latest and this one came out 7 years ago. Impossible not to compare and fascinating to see the author mature (most salient example is the moral at one point plated and served with all too convenient cogency), but the talent, the huge amount of talent, apparently was always present. This book was a smaller story, fewer characters, more reality based ...more
Feb 20, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it
Those Canadian novelists are something, especially the women. This stunning novel is the first from Emily St John Mandel, born in British Columbia.

Lilia is a young woman compelled to travel. After a certain short amount of time in any given location, she must move on, not so much because she wants to leave but because she needs to go. Like any compulsion, the reason for it is lost to Lilia in a cloud of amnesia.

The novel opens on a day when she has just left a man who loved her, who accepted tha
Johanna Schussler
Feb 04, 2015 Johanna Schussler rated it liked it
I struggled with rating this book. I didn't really like any of the characters, and I found myself having to suspend a lot of disbelief. The way Christopher treated his family, for example, and particularly his daughter. There were also some logical inconsistencies that I found distracting (for example, if Eli had studied French in high school, why couldn't he understand the phone number when it was given in French numbers?). So initially, I thought I just didn't like the book.

However. The autho
Dec 02, 2015 dianne rated it really liked it
Shelves: around-da-world
This a wonderful book, lots of new ideas and old wisdom. Since this writer is so good i'm going to be a bit of a wienie and complain about little things:
It is off to a fantastic start - but bogs down about of the way through. When someone is holding a secret, you want to know it, and may bargain, but eventually there is a point beyond which you are tired of waiting and your thoughts move on. Like that.

And there are a few too many envisioned driving scenes with mirrored desert in the mirage ahe
Tattered Cover Book Store
Joe says:

Wow. What a novel. I couldn't put this book down, and read the final 100 pages on a Sunday morning before I could do anything else. The book is a breeze and a joy to read, and the author's pace just urges the reader on and on. St. John Mandel is a great writer, and I'm looking forward to more from her. She's got a terrific sense of place, and created such amazingly well-rounded, realistic characters I keep thinking about them days later.
Jul 30, 2016 Kats rated it liked it
It's certainly no hardship reading Emily StJohn Mandel's debut novel. Some of the writing is beautiful, but unfortunately the "story" part of "story telling" is a bit boring. This tale of dysfunctional marriages and families doesn't contain any "novel" ideas, and the young woman's lost memories and one sided romances are not interesting or engaging enough for me to care for any of the three lost yoing souls. The prose made it a very enjoyable read, though.
Nov 28, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I came to this book after loving Station Eleven. It is completely different in subject and setting, but there's a similarity in storytelling style that is wonderful. There are only obsessed characters here, each struggling for escape, to love, to discover secrets from their past, or to find or protect a vulnerable girl. It sounds melodramatic, but Mandel writes a gentle, literary tale....not a page-turner.
Michael Bohli
Sep 01, 2015 Michael Bohli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, favorites
Kaum zu glauben, aber "Last Night In Montreal" ist das Debüt der wunderbaren Autorin Emily St. John Mandel. Mit einer unglaublich akzentuierten und durchdachten Sprache, einem Feingefühl für Figuren und Situationen und einer extrem grossen Empathie zeichnet sie eine traurige und mitreissende Geschichte um Verlust, Distanz und Liebe.

Was mich schon bei "Station Eleven" begeisterte, findet man auch in diesem Roman: Wärme, Menschlichkeit und Gefühl. Die Wortwahl und Satzgebilde suchen ihresgleichen,
Jason Fischer
Dec 03, 2015 Jason Fischer rated it it was amazing
God I want to read everything by this author! Emily St. John Mandel needs to hurry up and write many more books.

"Last Night In Montreal" is a slow slide towards something awful, and I honestly couldn't pick where this story was going. A book with a literary flavour, but it kept my bogan interest from start to finish. Not a single character who isn't damaged by the story's end, and it is still resonating in my mind the next day. This gets the rare 5/5 from me.
Jan 10, 2016 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
This first novel definitely felt like one - I could see a lot of the elements that I loved so much in Station Eleven, but it ended up falling flat for me. Too many inscrutable characters. I still plan to seek out more from this author, though.
Milo (BOK)
Feb 19, 2015 Milo (BOK) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller-crime
Awesome book that really impressed a lot. Not quite the level of Station Eleven but amazing for a debut novel, one of the strongest that I've read. Excellent.
Sep 10, 2015 Mike rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, mfa
Cute, pat, flat, occasionally interesting, completely forgettable.
Jim Elkins
Jun 06, 2016 Jim Elkins rated it did not like it
Shelves: canadian
Problems in Handling Academic Material in a Novel

This is a partial review because I am mainly interested in how Mandel manages the specialized academic material she brings into her novel. It's a writing problem: I think the material does not do what she hopes it will, which is to help give her love story the grain and texture of reality.

It's tempting, in writing, to choose a body of knowledge to serve as a portable allegory for your story. "Last Night in Montreal" is a story about trauma and rep
Jun 11, 2015 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-con, 2015
Stop looking for me. I'm not missing; I do not want to be found. I wish to remain vanishing. I don't want to go home. – Lilia.

Last Night in Montreal – Emily St. John Mandel's recently re-released first novel – is a beautifully structured meditation on the natures of obsession, loss, and the doggedness of family ties; even when we've run away from our families; even when our families have run away from us.

In the beginning we meet Eli – a Brooklyn-based academic working on his thesis about dead
Aug 02, 2009 Wendy rated it really liked it
Last Night in Montreal is a rather melancholy tale set in the bitter cold of winter. But the author's writing has a softness to it, a gentleness that takes away the edge without losing any of the suspense or the strength of its message. Emily St. John Mandel has a way with words. Her writing is lyrical and yet simple.

On the outset, this may seem like Lilia's story. Her father kidnapped her when she was 7 years old, and, most of her life, she was on the run, traveling by car from town to town. Sh
Steven Belanger
Oct 27, 2014 Steven Belanger rated it it was amazing
An exquisitely-written, stays-with-you little gem of a book, more about the people who are left behind than about the people who leave.

Very short, at 220 pages, but very deep about obsession, depression, leaving and staying behind. The characters are all representatives, of course, more than they are flesh-and-blood, exactly, which made me hate Lilia a little less at the end, when we learn in the last few sentences of the book that she lived happily-ever-after (mostly) after all, despite all the
Mar 28, 2010 Manda rated it it was amazing
When Lilia says she is stepping out for coffee and never returns, Eli does not imagine the past he will uncover when he searches for her. A mysterious postcard from Montreal sends Eli on a wild goose chase that introduces him to a strange girl named Michaela and a few stories neither of them are ready to hear. Filled with a broken past, lost loves, and crazy moments at every turn, Last Night In Montreal is a wild ride with an amazing twist.

I absolutely adored this book. This is Emily St. John Ma
Apr 22, 2009 Edan rated it really liked it
I think this is actually a 3.5 star book for me, but I am rounding up because it's a debut novel and shows the enormous skills of this young writer. I was really impressed with the structure of this book, which balances and braids multiple time frames and places. I read this in a few days and really enjoyed myself--the mystery and secrets build as the story goes on in such a delicious way!

My main critique of the book is that one of the story's main characters, or at the least the character we b
Jun 24, 2016 Aoife rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary, adult, library
Lilia never stays, she always just arrives for a short time and then leaves, regardless of those she's briefly connected with. Leaving has become part of Lilia's DNA, ever since the time she was seven years old and she was taken away in the middle of the night by her father and they never stopped running from invisible pursuers.

Last Night in Montreal examines not only Lilia's story but how her story affects the others that are someway connected with her life. In much the way I found Mandel's wr
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Emily St. John Mandel was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York.

Her fourth novel, Station Eleven, is forthcoming in September 2014. All three of her previous novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun, and The Lola Quartet—were Indie Next
More about Emily St. John Mandel...

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“Forever is the most dizzying word in the English language. The idea of staying in one place forever was like standing at the border of a foreign country, peering over the fence and trying to imagine what life might be like on the other side, and life on the other side was frankly unimaginable.” 22 likes
“Michaela wasn't someone Lilia ever trusted, but there was a certain kinship; she shared Lilia's suspicion that the world might prove, in the end, to have been either a mirage or a particularly elaborate hoax. ” 6 likes
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