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Last Night in Montreal

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  2,147 ratings  ·  453 reviews
When Lilia Albert was a child, her father appeared on the doorstep of her mother's house and took her away. Now, haunted by an inability to remember much about her early childhood, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and eluding the private detective who has dedicated a career to following close behind.

Then comes Eli. When Lilia goes out for a pape
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Andrew Smith
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 toge ...more
Patrick Brown
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
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,
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
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 sp ...more
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
Micheal Fraser
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
Cute, pat, flat, occasionally interesting, completely forgettable.
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
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
Milo (Bane of Kings)
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.
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
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.
Michael Bohli
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,
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
This book was really weird for me. Midway though I thought I didn't like it. Then when I was almost done with it, everything came together and hit me in the gut in a way that wasn't particularly surprising (the plot is very easy to follow and very predictable for the most part) but the language was just so--stunning that I went along with everything and just fell into this gut-wrenching hole the author developed. There really isn't much of a story going on which is to say it's not a particularly ...more
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
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
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
Laura de Leon
This was a beautiful book that pulled me into the lives of the characters.

I was fascinated by Lilia's childhood on the run, in seeing the effect on her as an adult, and puzzling the reasons behind what had happened to her.

I was hooked on this book when Eli explained his interest in dead and dying languages. Eli's character was lost-- not sure where he was going with his own life. When Lilia steps into his life, then back out again, he wants to help her, and to make sure she is OK. He pursues her
The breathtaking, lyrical story of Lilia and those who search for her begins and ends in Montreal, a cold city fiercely guarding its language. Lilia is someone who is constantly vanishing and those who love her are always looking for her. The search has enriched some lives and ruined others. As the book reveals more about Lilia's secrets, the reader is drawn in tighter, wanting, needing to know why she leaves and what she's running from. An interesting take on non-custodial parent abduction, it' ...more
Part of a full review I published on my blog.[return][return]While Last Night In Montreal is an extremely complex novel, it is so masterfully written the reader is drawn directly into the story looking for the next piece to the puzzle that began with a father abducting his little girl. Rarely do I encounter a book so beautifully written with a complex storyline that is both devastatingly tragic and at the same time life affirming. I would recommend this novel to all readers and highly suggest th ...more
I know that one of my friends didn't like this book and we will have words when I see her but I liked Emily St. John Mandel's Last Night in Montreal. I thought it very Mitchellistic just like her latest novel, Station Eleven. Lilia Albert is the character who connects everyone with everything.

After being "abducted" by her father when she was 7, they crossed the border into the U.S. where they travel from state to state, alluding the authorities. At 16, Lilia's father decides to stop traveling b
Ian Brydon
I suspect that I will look back on 2015 as the year of Emily St John Mandel. Until a few days ago I might have been tempted to put money on her marvellous novel 'Station Eleven' being the finest book I will read this year. That, however, was before my boss recommended her first novel, 'Last Night in Montreal'.

Right from the first page, when Lilia leaves the Brooklyn apartment that she shares with mature PhD student Eli, I was captivated by this beguiling story. Lilia is beautiful, speaks four la
Steven Belanger
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
gorgeous ... full review to come soon

ETA: Review originally posted at All Books Considered

I am an Emily St. John Mandel believer! After reading both Station Eleven and Last Night in Montreal in the past week, I feel a bit ruined for other authors. Her writing is haunting -- absolutely gorgeous. I am reminded of my favorite of all time, Donna Tartt. I hate to compare the two books but there are definitely a few similarities aside from the beautiful writing -- the reliance on and reference to th
Robert Blumenthal
This is a book that is hard to pin down. It's part mystery, part coming of age, part youthful alienation. It has a surreal quality about it, sometimes as if the characters are moving through a fog. There is a David Lynchian quality to it, sometimes making the characters a bit hard to relate to. However, the story is woven so meticulously, with several important questions that need answering, and the author effectively answers all of them. A girl is abducted by her biological father at the age of ...more
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
Kiersten McMonagle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Loved this book. I so enjoyed Mandel's most recent novel, "Station Eleven," which is a finalist for the National Book Award, that I picked up her first novel, which was wonderful as well. "Last Night in Montreal" is a story of a girl who keeps leaving, because that's all she knows how to do, due to her non-traditional upbringing. As the story hurtles to its startling conclusion, the past and the present are revealed and entwine. (I'm too sleepy this morning to be writing a review.)

Highly recomme
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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...
Station Eleven The Lola Quartet The Singer's Gun Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books

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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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