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The Lola Quartet

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3.43  ·  Rating details ·  4,148 ratings  ·  567 reviews
Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s disgraced following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly. The economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last ...more
Hardcover, 279 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Unbridled Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,148 ratings  ·  567 reviews


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Andrew Smith
Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel hasn’t yet published many books – four in fact – but I’m methodically making my way through them. I stumbled across the superb Station Eleven courtesy of some good reviews I’d seen on Goodreads and I then picked up Last Night in Montreal which I also loved. In my view, this one isn’t in the same league as the other two.


Told in her trademark style – that’s to say flipping back and forth in time and focussing on different characters, seemingly randomly – this tale gradua
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Angela M
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it

I loved Station Eleven so I was interested in trying one of Emily St. John Mandel's earlier books. While these are two very different stories, I was not disappointed. This book also illustrates the author's talent in weaving a story moving back and forth in time. I really like this mechanism because we get to see what brought these broken characters to their messy current lives ten years after high school .

Gavin , Sasha , Daniel , Jack , four high school friends and members of The Lola Quarte
...more
Snotchocheez
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Only slightly less enthralling than her post-apocalyptic Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel's The Lola Quartet is a consistently engaging, refreshingly original novel that is so utterly underrated by my fellow GR readers (3.34? Really?) it blows my mind.

Ms. Mandel hooked me from the start: Young Anna, teen mom, is sitting on a playground swingset in Virginia with her infant daughter Chloe, with $121,000 stashed underneath the stroller. The mystery of how Anna becomes a young mother, hiding out. hundreds o
...more
christa
Aug 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
The best of Emily St. John Mandel’s “The Lola Quartet” is concentrated in the novel’s first scene. Young teen mom Anna Montgomery is going about her daily ritual. She wakes early, bundles the bambino and stops at an all-night donut shop. From there she makes her way to a park where she sits on a swing and frets the bundle of more than $100,000 she’s got stashed in the stroller. A man appears in the distance.

Dun-dun-duh.

Unfortunately, that first burst of intrigue is wasted when the cast of un-l
...more
Iris P

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

Its difficult to describe the exact literary genre The Lola Quartet falls under, it lives somewhere in the nexus of literary fiction and crime mystery. As as a character study with a noir flair, it works pretty well, as a mystery I found it somehow underwhelming and anti-climatic.

The Lola Quartet, the 3rd novel by Canadian-born writer Emily St.John-Mandel, with its sultry descriptions of run-down jazz bars, fedoras and trench coats felt definitively like Noir to me.

If you read St. Mantel highly su
...more
Jaylia3
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
2014’s Station Eleven captivated me with its story of life after a pandemic flu caused the collapse of society, and The Lola Quartet, an earlier novel by the same author, shares many of Station Eleven’s story elements, including a life during crisis theme, though here the disasters are on a smaller scale.

Gavin is unsettled by the news that he may have fathered a daughter by a troubled high school girlfriend who disappeared--so unsettled he makes mistakes that sabotage his NYC career as a report
...more
Janet
On Thanksgiving Day, I took an entire day off work and stayed in bed all day reading. It was heavenly, and I owe much of that happiness to Emily Mandel, who is three for three in my book. I adore her writing and was thrilled when she sent me an advanced copy of this newest book, The Lola Quartet.

The story itself is a fascinating one (and as someone who doesn't like for even the first chapter's contents to be revealed, I'll not give even the smallest spoilers!), but it's the way that it so deftl
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This story is just one long string of unlikely coincidences, but it must not have bothered me too much because I read the entire thing in just a few hours.

I think Gavin's downward slide began when he was too lazy call the landlord to fix the leaky shower. Every night while he was sleeping, that running faucet was like the aural equivalent of Chinese water torture, eroding his brain. End of sanity and common sense for Gavin. Permanent case of the stupids. No wonder Karen ditched him. Who wants a
...more
Judith
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nook-net-galley
Four friends form a jazz band in High School, the eponymous Lola Quartet....add one more (the drummer's step sister/trumpet player's girlfriend) and you have the cast of characters playing in this story

You also have a pregnancy-kept-secret, a runaway, a theft of mucho $$$$ from a meth dealer, a ruined journalist, and a cold-blooded murder. Oh my!

Gavin and Anne were High School sweethearts, until Anne became pregnant, and decided to run away with Daniel (because he had a p
...more
Elyse Walters
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Emily St. John Mandel is a talented-unique-writer.

This is her 3rd book. (I've read them all, enjoyed them all).

Its hard to put into words just what's so 'different' about this author. (but she 'is' different).

All three books have well-developed personalities of her characters!

Something very special about these books (the style of writing ---the stories themselves --the characters)...

Keep those books coming Ms. 'Emily St. John Mandel' (love your work)!
Belle
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of a time in my life in 2008 or 2009 when we were in an economic downturn. Mandel writes of that time with such clarity. She writes of Florida, a state that holds at least a little piece of my heart. She writes about 4 people that remind me strongly of my sister and a group of friends that she may have had. The book just felt familiar to me from the very first page.
Katie Lumsden
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
I thought it wouldn't be as good as Station Eleven. I was wrong. Her characters are brilliant, her writing captivating and beautiful.
Melissa
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I've been trying to not be held prisoner by the concept of sunk costs, so if I've gotten a whole 2/3rds of the way through a book but I am dreading picking it back up because it's gotten totally boring (Smilla's Sense of Snow, oh my, what happened to you?), I am forcing myself to let it go and move on; also, and this is not sunk costs but something else, maybe FOMO? But when I pick a book up and read 15 pages and am already side-eyeing the writing style or bizarre turns of phrase and I really don't like the c(Smilla's ...more
Judy
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mandel fans

I did not experience the unconditional love for this book that I felt after Emily St John Mandel's first two novels. This is not necessarily a bad thing because I could feel her growth as an author. The fine writing, the suspense, the great characters are all present but she has had a change of heart. Last Night in Montreal centered around a young woman whose bizarre childhood compelled her to wander ceaselessly. The protagonist in The Singer's Gun tried to outrun his criminal upbringing. Both o
...more
 Megan • Reading Books Like a Boss (book blog)


An exquisitely constructed literary thriller that pulls you in from its striking opening scene and holds your attention until the end, THE LOLA QUARTET is another solid novel from Emily St. John Mandel about the ripple effect of our decisions and their affects on unintended victims.

The opening scene of the novel is short but concentrated, the catalyst for the entire novel. We find 17-year old runaway, Anne, sitting in a park with her newborn baby with $118,000 strapped to the bottom of the stroller. Like in Sta
...more
Catherine
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Station Eleven brought Emily St. John Mandel to my attention and she's quickly becoming my literary crush of Summer 2015. The Lola Quartet is not as amazing as SE, but it's still a lovely little onion with layers to be peeled away and enjoyed.

The Lola Quartet was the name of a jazz quartet at a performing arts magnet school ten years ago. Gavin Sasaki, arguably the main character of the book, did not pursue music, but earned a journalism degree at Columbia, although things have not been going well for him rece
...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Four friends, and a girl who is the girlfriend of one and the stepsister of the only female, start a jazz quartet in highschool. It is their last concert and their last year in high school and they all have bright plans for the future. I can relate to this because I remember being in that position, didn't like jazz much, but music was always around. Thought at 17 I was all grown up and the future was limitless. A decade passes and the group is brought together again by a picture, find out their ...more
John
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A superbly written and constructed literary thriller that had me thinking of Donna Tartt's The Secret History and held my attention from start to finish; it was only when I came here to make my notes that I made the connection with the novel Station Eleven, about which I've heard so much buzz.

The Lola Quartet of the title is a Florida high-school jazz combo, whose four participants are brought back together a decade later by a string of circumstances. Gavin, who for a while looked to be becoming a
...more
Inna
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Благодарение на Емили Мандел вече знам какво са fedora и cul-de-sac.
(Fedora ѝ е особено любима дума.)

“We thought we were coming closer to nature, but all along nature was creeping closer to us.”

“If you tell a lie it's easier to tell another.”

“… but they wanted different things out of music. Anna wanted steadiness and predictability, music with rules. Chloe wanted noise, Chloe wanted music she could listen to while she threw bottles against the underpass at the back of the par
...more
Chelsea
Mar 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed Emily St. John's first book, Last Night in Montreal, and her second, The Signer's Gun, was just okay. This third novel is somewhere between the two.

The first thing I noticed was that like her first book, this was again about a mysterious girl and a man out to find her. Oh how I love stories like this! I just can't get enough of guys tortured by the girl that got away. The pain of wanting and having loved these women is completely romantic. The second thing I noticed
...more
Simone
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
I really thought Station Eleven was Emily St. John Mandel’s first book until I heard this one (her third I think) recommended on the What Should I Read Next podcast. Then last year I re-read Station Eleven in a book club and it was just as great as I remembered, so I decided to try this one.

It hits that sweet spot for me that some of my favorite novels occupy, that is a mystery about something that happened in high school that unfolds years in the future. It sort of reminded me of Ohio in that
...more
Piepie
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I'm finding Emily St. John Mandel's books to be addicting, and to me it's a little sad that I'll soon be all caught up before she releases another book. Mandel has a very smart way of writing, and her words just flow like water in a brilliant, beautiful presentation.

The Lola Quartet is not a romance, not a thriller... I'm not sure where to classify this book. There's murder, loss, pain... sharp emotions, all. It could be said that her characters are imperfect, unlikeable, but their stories are ones th
...more
Angela
Nov 12, 2011 rated it liked it
A little too fluffy to be taken seriously, but I enjoyed reading it anyway.
Sarah
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not giving anything away to say that, towards the end of this novel, one of the protagonists, Gavin Sasaki, finds himself wandering through a housing estate at night looking at new builds that have been left part-completed. He asks himself "Does a house still count as a ruin if it's abandoned before it's done?" Houses are on Gavin's mind a lot: he comes to dislike them, "these enormous anchors that people tied to their lives".

Gavin's question could equally have been "is a person still a ruin if they have"these"Does
...more
Ania
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3,5 stars, I guess.

With this book I have now read all of the novels Emily St. John Mandel released so far. Very much middle of the road read for me - at no point I wanted to dnf it, but I also wasn't as invested in the story or characters as I would like to be.

The mystery wasn't that gripping. While I never find her books "thrilling" or "suspenseful" (as the reviews on the covers tend to describe them as), it's not exactly what I look for in her stories anyway. But this "
...more
Mark
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I came to this one, I imagine like most people, having read Mandel's bestseller 'Station Eleven'.

So, first things first for those who seek quick answers in relation to that book...

Is this as good as SE? Answer: Not quite, no.
Is this a similar genre to SE, with all that cool dystopian stuff? Answer: No.

But read on, all is not lost! The Lola Quartet is a beautifully written story about 4 high school kids, who make up the titular jazz combo, and their journ
...more
Margie
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first page introduced us to 17 year-old, Anna, who is an unwed mother to infant daughter Chloe, and the fact that she has a shopping bag duct taped to the bottom of the stroller filled with $118,000. The book takes the long way around telling you how Anna acquired this money and the stories of four high school students who played together in the Lola Quartet. The book goes back and forth from their high school days, to 10 years later as they all come back together in the town of Sebastian, F ...more
Julianne Vantland
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Emily St. John Mandel captivated me with Station Eleven. I’ve been turning it over in my mind for years, dreaming about the world she created, the characters. It was just stunning. I hoped I would love her other novels as much but so far no luck.

Mandel is supremely talented at storytelling from multiple perspectives and times, I never feel lost or confused as she weaves it all together. And the story she weaves is one I’ve never heard before, but it was just really dark and the ending depressed
...more
Keely
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book completely sucked me in and held me. I devoured it in less that 24 hours. It’s incredibly compelling and well-written. What’s so unusual for me, is that there wasn’t a single character that I really loved and rooted for, yet I still loved the book.
Emorgan05
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So good. St. John Mandel has a really interesting writing style, and the way all the characters' lives interweave over years is fascinating.

I'm not sure how I feel about the ending yet.
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5,370 followers
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
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“Sasha found herself at a loss for words. What am I asking you? I'm asking you if I was complicit in something unspeakable, because Anna, Anna, I already carry so much.” 0 likes
“but mostly his work just made him dislike houses. These enormous anchors that people tied to their lives.” 0 likes
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