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The Lola Quartet

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3.48  ·  Rating details ·  6,211 ratings  ·  799 reviews
Gavin Sasaki was a promising young journalist in New York City until the day he was fired for plagiarism. The last thing he wants is to sell foreclosed real estate for his sister Eilo’s company in their Florida hometown, but he’s in no position to refuse her job offer. Plus, there’s another reason to go home: Eilo recently met a ten-year-old girl who looks very much like G ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Vintage (first published May 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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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 – th
...more
Angela M
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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  ·  review of another edition
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 o
...more
christa
Aug 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 hi
...more
Jaylia3
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
Whitney
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I absolutely loved The Lola Quartet. Mandel has taken a seemingly simple story line and turned it into an examination of morality, justice, and impossible choices - all themes that crop up in her books. The beginning of the novel feels a bit like a murder mystery episode - small vignettes of characters with vague references to events that are only revealed later on in the story. I loved seeing the plot slowly contract, bringing everyone together into an unavoidable climax. The main question is, ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)!
...more
Judith
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 place to run to in Utah).
...more
Belle
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I thought it wouldn't be as good as Station Eleven. I was wrong. Her characters are brilliant, her writing captivating and beautiful. ...more
Melissa
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 do ...more
Judy
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 s
...more
Catherine
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 w
...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tim
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Damn I can't describe why I loved it so much. It's so exciting. It plays on several time levels. It's told from so many perspectives. And It's just so well written. Thank you, Emily St. John Mandel, I love your books. This was not the first and not the last book I've read from you :) ...more
John
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Natalie
Interesting story. But this is a rare book where I found myself despising all of the characters but the secondary ones. William Chandler, a former gambler, park ranger, and python killer. Eilo Sasaki, Gavin’s hard-working, loyal, brother-rescuing sister. The other characters can’t do the right thing to save their lives. Rather than an intense build-up and satisfying resolution, the book ends with a bit of a whimper.
Jamie
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't feel that the author really did her homework about Florida and it honestly distracted me quite a bit from the story. We don't have basements here, for starters. I won't bore anyone with the geographical inconsistencies re: Boca Raton, Sebastian, and airports, but that was a thing too. ...more
Inna
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 park, Chloe wanted a
...more
Chelsea
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 is Emily's s
...more
Magdelanye
Disappointed in station eleven, I was nevertheless impressed with E St.JM s writing and so have sought out her earlier work. I am glad I did, for though I am pretty sure this wont be her absolute best book, I think she is on to something, and she can sure write. Perhaps because this book was shorter, the loose ends and coincidences were dealt with with subtlety and precision, and although there is the same reversion technique as in S11 here it never gets the chance to get irritating.

There are 4
...more
Richard
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I loved Station Eleven, but this one just wasn't as good.

I often read reviews that complain about "unlikable" characters and think that the problem is usually a lack of sympathy on the part of the reader. In this case, however, I suspect Mandel herself dislikes the people she has created. (Daniel is quite the dick, yo.) That can make for a fun book too, if there's action or reversals, but this just feels misanthropic. If the point was to highlight the justifications casually bad people make to
...more
Simone
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 s
...more
Edan
Dec 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun and riveting read, and like all of Emily St. John Mandel's books, the structure thrilled me. The way it's put together--wow, that takes some skills...

The beginning felt a bit stilted to me--some of the high school details seemed off (the prom is held after graduation--did I read that wrong?), and the reporter/newspaper scenes struck me as a touch familiar--but the book gets its legs soon after and just dances. I loved the eerie Florida landscape, part endless suburb, part bre
...more
Piepie
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ellie
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was super boring. I understood what was happening, but I didn’t know why, or why the author had even bothered to write it down. I thought it was heading towards a bigger message that it ultimately didn’t achieve, so I was disappointed.

After loving Station Eleven I’m still going to give The Glass Hotel a try, but cautiously.
Angela
Nov 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little too fluffy to be taken seriously, but I enjoyed reading it anyway.
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10,892 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.

She is the author of five novels, including The Glass Hotel (spring 2020) and Station Eleven (2014.) Station Eleven was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Aw
...more

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