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Last Night in Montreal

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  6,189 ratings  ·  948 reviews

From the New York Times bestselling author of Station Eleven

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

Kindle Edition, 242 pages
Published January 15th 2015 by Picador (first published June 3rd 2009)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  6,189 ratings  ·  948 reviews

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Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel is a Vintage publication.

What an incredibly absorbing story!

Again, I have no memory of how this book crossed my path. I can’t remember who recommended it or where I first noticed it.

It’s not a new release, originally published back in 2009, and is apparently this author’s debut novel. But, it’s new to me, as is this author. But no matter how I discovered it, or how old it is, I still found this book to be a very atmospheric mystery, and I’m glad
Andrew Smith
Feb 23, 2015 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
Elyse (semi hiatus) Walters
Update: $1.99 Kindle Special!!!!
This is the first book I read by Emily St. John Mandel ...( it was her first book)
I fell madly in love with her instantly- and knew I wanted to continue reading her books. I have : read them all!
She was an independent author until
“Station Eleven”... the book which gave her a more wide spread name —
I still hold a special spot in my heart for this book - I noticed something about her writing so fresh - so clean - And the story is great!
I got to meet Emily after
Justin Tate
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The desire to travel is explored in this novel through extreme and intriguing ways. Kidnapped by her step-father as a little girl, Lilia grows up living the life of a fugitive. Even as an adult, she can't quite settle down. She lives in one place, develops relationships, and then leaves abruptly for someplace new. Characters impacted by her runaway lifestyle make up the supporting cast, all with their own unique issues.

I can't say I didn't like the book. There's mystery aswirl on every page and
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Johanna Schussler
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
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Micheal Fraser
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 16, 2016 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.
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 26, 2015 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
Jun 23, 2016 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
Katie Lumsden
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
Absolutely brilliant - and a late contender for my favourite book of the year! As always, Emily St John Mandel's writing is smooth, dramatic and beautiful. She has a brilliant balance of gripping plot, fantastic premise, clever twists, wonderful characters and interesting structure. She is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, library, friend-love
You'd think that a book about the search for an abducted child would be interesting. But when the child is mostly grown up and very selfish and not likable, it really detracts from the story quite a lot. She really messed up the lives of many people close to her and didn't stop for a second to think about that at all.

It's hard to like a book when you really dislike the supposed "victim". The real victims of this story were Eli and Michaela, people who took the time to care about this person.

Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, audible
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!

Jan 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This is not a book you'd read specifically for the love of Montreal. The two big things I learned about the city are: `

1)It's extremely cold in the winter.
2)The people are fanatical unto absurdity about the "Speak French or get out" campaign.
The boyfriend spends a couple of weeks looking for Lilia in Montreal, but other than some street names and mentions of landmarks, there's no real sense of the city itself.

I think the author is a good writer and has great potential, but the story and
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.
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is truly a tale of obsession and compulsion. What quality does this girl/woman have that prompts all these men to behave so weirdly?

Beautifully written, the Canadian cold and city become vital characters, too. The title is as ambiguous as the key players.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Definitely flawed, not as shocking as it thinks it is, but a compelling and well-told story.
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,
This novel was incredibly well written, and I could not stop returning to it whenever I had the chance. St. John Mandel is a wonderful writer, and I look forward to reading or listening to more novels of her in the future. I cannot wait until she comes out with another novel.
This is a great review that hits all the points that I’d like to have mentioned, but don’t have the time right now to do so:

I highly recommend the audiobook version of this novel, as
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, can-con
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
Sep 03, 2015 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
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.
Jan 04, 2016 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.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Cute, pat, flat, occasionally interesting, completely forgettable.
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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
“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.” 24 likes
“She slipped so easily into the folds of his life” 8 likes
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