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Last Night in Montreal

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  12,130 ratings  ·  1,592 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
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Glauber Ribeiro Ha! Got it! Not last night as yesterday, but last night as the final night in Montreal.

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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 toge ...more
Elyse  Walters
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 S
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Virtually nothing that happens in this novel is plausible. Emily St John Mandel likes taking things to extremes. A father abducts his little girl and spends the next twelve or so years driving her from one motel to another back and forth across America. He talks to her about string theory, the moons of Saturn and other highbrow stuff that the little girl, we're told, finds compelling. It's another trademark of this author that she doesn't do normal people. There's something pretentious about all ...more
Mar 17, 2010 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
Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
Jul 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"'Try to imagine what it’s like,' she said. 'I don’t know how to stay.'"

A young girl is abducted and spends the next nine years on the run with her father. They travel the United States, stopping for a few days here, a week there, never very long in one place.

A detective with a broken marriage becomes obsessed with finding this young girl, losing his own daughter in the process.

A young man awakens to find his girlfriend has disappeared. He sets out on a journey to find her.

A young woman is on a
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
Julie Ehlers
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Both the most American of road trips (dusty, dry, sun-faded, interstate to interstate and motel to motel) and the coldest, darkest, most noirish depiction of Montreal imaginable. The characters were hard to get to know, but that's noir for you. I suspect this book's haunting imagery, and its tragedies both extraordinary and everyday, will stay with me for a long, long time. ...more
Fan of this author's books. Enjoyed this one but sad there is 1 less of hers I have left to read. ...more
Jun 12, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 Stars
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In anticipation of her upcoming new release, I went back and read her debut novel. The writing is fantastic, but the structure and characters in this book left me cold. I often had trouble understanding some of the characters’ motivations, and the thinking of all the characters seemed not quite mature.
Mar 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
“No one stays forever.” “...she’d been disappearing for so long that she didn’t know how to stay.”
Liliia’s father came and took her away (abducted) from her mother when she was 7. Because of being on the run for so long, Lilia does not know how to stay in one place. She has to keep moving. What is also interesting is that she remembers nothing about the time before her father came.

She meets Eli in New York, who is studying disappearing languages. The theme of disappearing is a big one throughout
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ibr
I keep trying to see what everyone sees in the work of Emily St. John Mandel but I keep hitting my head against an aesthetic blockage that I find hard to pinpoint.
In Station Eleven I took against the traveling Shakespearian troupe and in this one it was the random insertion of a family of circus-folk. I think that very generally both these books wander towards something whimsy-adjacent. There is a fancifulness here; the pomegranates, the manic pixie dream girls, fedora wearing detectives, and
Patrick Brown
Mar 10, 2009 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. ...more
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lilia, Eli and Michaela are lost, elusive, odd characters that I gladly followed through the mysterious landscape St. John Mandel has woven. She is a wizard of a writer!
Anita Pomerantz
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me, this book reads like an extended short story in the sense that it is very interesting, but at the end, not every i is dotted, not every t is crossed. As a reader who likes short stories, I often enjoy some ambivalence . . .but for many, the ending just won't be satisfactory.

The crux of the book is a young girl, Lilia, is kidnapped by her own father, John, who stays on the move with her. Lilia's path crosses with three other main characters, Christopher, Michaela, and Eli. Unfortunately,
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is so much going on in this book. It begins with a mysterious feeling that doesn’t let up until the end. You just know there’s not a character in this story who will emerge unscathed. Mandel reaches down deep into the emotional realms where I kept hoping the inexplicable would become understandable. Much of the writing affected me on a gut level. There are those people who seem to live their lives skating on the surface of the world. Then there are some who become fully immersed in all the ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I actually thought this was going to be an excellent read right up to the halfway point, but then things kept deteriorating, becoming progressively more overwrought and overwritten. Because this was a book group selection, I paid closer attention to structure and style than I might otherwise have, and so will discuss a few of the things that prevented me from liking it more.

The following sentence is representative of the writing throughout:

"Clara poured coffee beans into an ancient cast-iron gri
Bonnie G.
There is more than one way to be a femme fatale. This is a beautifully atmospheric book, a deconstructed noir, that can be fun to read. Briefly, the story follows Lilia, a 20-something who grew up on the run with a non-custodial parent who kidnapped her. They were both always mere steps ahead of Christopher, an investigator hired by Lilia's mother to find the child and who left behind his own wife and child to pursue Lilia and her father. As Lilia becomes an adult she has no idea how to just sta ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
C’mon, do you really want me to believe that Last Night in Montreal was Emily St. John Mandel’s debut novel? I’ve read all of Mandel’s novels, and I just finished rereading Last Night in Montreal. Although it’s her first published novel, Mandel nonetheless wrote it with her characteristic fluid, breezy, dispassionate style, a style that here masks the underlying horrors of her story. Last Night. . . centers almost unimaginable child neglect and abandonment in by a father and mother in one family ...more
George Pence
Jul 24, 2011 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 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last Night in Montreal is a menacing, tense, slow burn of a novel, in just the way I like. It was a slow read for me, not because I didn't enjoy it (I did, immensely) but because Mandel's writing, as always, demands her reader to engage, and take notice. I am sure that many of the criticisms I've read of this novel are justified. Yes, there are some twists of plot less credible than others, there are some untidy turns of phrase. I was prepared to forgive these, because for this reader, Mandel's ...more
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Erin (from Long Island, NY)
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Exceptional writing, almost poetic.. Not quite a mystery- more a character study with elements of suspense. It’s broken up into a few different parts, and each 1 focused on different aspects (people & timeframes) of the story. I listened to the audiobook & both the story & the narrator were enthralling. An impressive introduction to an author I’ve heard such positive things about.. Certainly not all sunshine & rainbows but still a nice change from the nitty gritty I’m used to.❤️
Micheal Fraser
Jun 05, 2010 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 o
Jim Elkins
Mar 08, 2016 added 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 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 repression, and
Aug 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dream-like and haunting writing in the best of senses. I found the first half a lot stronger than the second, because the reveal of what happened in the past to the characters wasn't as thrilling as the not-knowing, but the atmospheric writing was top notch throughout. ...more
Katie Long
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one took a few unbelievable turns that put me off a bit, but man, can Emily St. John Mandel tell an engaging story. Can’t wait to dive into her latest now! 3.5 rounded up
Jan 22, 2012 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
Judith E
Jun 30, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the third book by Hilary St. John Mandel I’ve read and it’s her debut novel. Each novel has a different plot and a different message which are encapsulated by her clear and compelling writing. Looking back to her two previous novels, I find she has honed her skills and cleaned up some gaps in characterizations and motivations.

There are mysterious events and behaviors that occur in Last night in Montreal and Mandel evenly paces her revelations. Overall this was a page turner with a very
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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.

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

Articles featuring this book

Author Emily St. John Mandel has a way with words.   Plenty of writers can make that claim, but Mandel moves words around with intuitive...
123 likes · 13 comments
“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.” 27 likes
“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.” 10 likes
More quotes…