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Last Night in Montreal
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Archive: Other Books > [Trim] Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel - 2.5 stars

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message 1: by Theresa (last edited Jan 26, 2020 10:42AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Theresa | 7431 comments This is Mandel's debut novel, one exhibiting the promise and inventiveness that became Station Eleven years later, but this one was for me unsatisfactory and ultimately disappointing. I actually give it 2.5 stars, rounding down here because I just could not go to 3 stars.

Lilia (and I do not believe that my constantly reading this as Lilith is accidental) has been on the move since she was kidnapped by her father when she was 7 years old from her mother's house in the Quebec province. Lilia spends the next 15 years wandering the US, initially with her father then alone, never staying long anywhere. In her own words, Lilia does not know how to stay, rather than needing to leave. Relationships are transient, and she has partial amnesia of her childhood prior to being taken by her father.

The book shifts between the young man she left behind when she left N.Y. for Montreal, the Canadian detective hired by her mother to find her, and Michaela the detective's daughter who is the same age as Lilia, all three of whom can be best described as lost, more lost than Lilia. Lilia's childhood and her lack of memories creates a loose mystery to the story that teases the reader with clues and hints dropped from time to time. All of course reaches a climax in the cold of a winter's night in Montreal, where memory is fully restored, stories completed, and those lost are found.

Were there any real surprises when all revealed? No, as it wasn't solving mysteries that was the story. It was how each of the main characters found the true beginning and end of their story, and accepted it.

At times the writing is inspired, too often it is repetitive, even removed as if the author is just an observer reporting what is seen (an analogy used by Mandel in the plot via the story of Icarus), never engaged. I grew impatient often, yet the book is a very fast read, a credit to Mandel's ability to propel you along. My advice to others...skip this one.


message 2: by Jgrace (new) - added it

Jgrace | 2945 comments Haven't read this one. Sounds like I should take it off the list.
When I read Station Eleven, I somehow thought it was her debut. When I discovered that wasn't true, I did try The Singer's Gun which was published in 2009.
It was well done. Reminded me a bit of Atkinson's Jackson Brodie series.


message 3: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments Oh dear. I have this one coming up later in the year.


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