Daily Archives: June 1, 2009

Last Night In Montreal – Book Review

lastnightmontreal He was hunting just then, hot on the trail of something obscure, tracking a rare butterfly-like quotation as it fluttered through thickets of dense tropical paragraphs. The chase seemed to require the utmost concentration; still, he couldn’t help but think later on that if he’d only glanced up from the work, he might’ve seen something: a look in her eyes, a foreshadowing of doom, perhaps a train ticket in her hand or the words I’m Leaving You Forever stitched on the front of her coat. – from Last Night In Montreal, page 3 –

Lilia awakens one night when she is seven years old and finds her father waiting for her outside in the snow. She walks out of her home and into his arms. What follows is a life of constant travel – moving from place to place with the sensation of being hunted, changing identities, and an inability to create lasting relationships.When Lilia meets Eli, a young man studying dead and dying languages in New York City, she knows she will eventually leave him. But when she does just that, the act puts in motion a series of events which will not only change Lilia’s life, but the lives of those around her.

Fifteen years later in another country Lilia pressed her forehead against a windowpane in Eli’s apartment, looking out at an uncharted landscape of Brooklyn rooftops in the rain, and came to a somewhat unsettling conclusion: she’d been disappearing for so long that she didn’t know how to stay. – from Last Night In Montreal, page 9 –

Last Night In Montreal is a novel which intersects the lives of four flawed characters: Lilia, scarred by events she cannot remember but from which she constantly flees; Eli, stuck in one place and unable to move forward until he becomes obsessed with Lilia; Christopher, the private investigator who gives up everything to find a missing child and uncover the mystery of her disappearance; and Michaela, Christopher’s daughter who is abandoned by her parents and haunted by a girl she only knows through her father’s notes. The mystery surrounding Lilia’s abduction serves as the focal point from which the other characters’ stories revolve. As they are all drawn into Lilia’s life, they are forced to come to terms with their own weaknesses, desires, and fears. Thematically, the story is one about loss, repressed memory, family secrets and identity.

Lilia is a complex character whose life is not her own. She has no recollection of her years before the abduction and seems unable to stop traveling – a compulsion which allows her to see the world and yet not be a part of it.

She moved over the surface of life the way figure skaters move, fast and choreographed, but she never broke through the ice, she never pierced the surface and descended into those awful beautiful waters, she was never submerged and she never learned to swim in those currents, these current: all the shadows and light and splendorous horrors that make up the riptides of life on earth. – from Last Night In Montreal, page 119 –

Last Night in Montreal is Emily St. John Mandel’s first novel, and it is a stunning debut. Told from multiple viewpoints and moving back and forth between the present and past, the book is compulsively readable. Mandel’s writing is flawless – poetic, compelling, and achingly beautiful. Perhaps the strongest aspect of Mandel’s prose is her ability to fully develop her characters – people who are adrift and searching and often in pain, but who attract the reader’s empathy and admiration despite their weaknesses.

Last Night In Montreal is one of those books which once started cannot be laid aside. Disturbing and dark at times, it is a novel which will haunt the reader long after it is completed.

Highly recommended.


To read more about this book, including an excerpt, visit the Unbridled Books website.

emily-mandel-author-photo1 To learn more about Emily St. John Mandel and her work, visit the author’s website.

More reviews of this book:

Feminist Review

The Word Hoarder

Violet Crush

Booksie’s Blog

Passion For The Page

Educating Petunia

She Reads and Reads

Bookfoolery and Babble

Musings of A Bookish Kitty

S. Krishna’s Books

Mailbox Monday – June 1, 2009


It’s Monday – time to share my mailbox with you!

consciencepoint Conscience Point by Erica Abeel arrived from Caitlin at Unbridled Books. This one has been on my radar for awhile now…and not just because of the gorgeous cover art. Here’s a publicity blurb about the book: ‘To be sure, there’s a story for everyone in Conscience Point: start with a successful woman at the height of her career struggling to adjust to the fast-paced, new world of pop culture and youth: throw in a love triangle (or two); add a good dose of mother-daughter drama; a comic look at New York’s artsy set with a peek into the harbored lives of the uber-wealthy; cover it with a dark, Gothic mystery; and top it off with the realization of a dream — reclaimed later in life. This is a swift, engaging, page-turner […]‘ This is Erica Abeel’s fifth novel. To read more about the author and her work, visit the author’s website.

cryingtree The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha arrived as an Advance Reader’s Edition from Broadway Books. This book sounds amazing and involves the murder of a child and the impact of that crime on the victim’s family. When the mother of the victim begins a secret coorespondence with the murderer, a series of events will be set in motion which will change everything. The blurb on the back of the books reads: ‘Dramatic, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, The Crying Tree is an unforgettable story of love and redemption, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the transformative power of forgiveness.‘ To read more about the author and the book, visit the author’s website. The Crying Tree is due for release in July.

sweepingupglass Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall arrived as an Advance Reader’s Edition from Bantam Dell. Set in Kentucky, the novel centers around a tough, proud woman named Olivia Harker Cross who “ignites a conflict that will embroil an entire community – and transform her own life in the most surprising ways.” Joe Lansdale, Edgar Award winner, writes: “This is a perfect little book, like a head-on collision between Flannery O’Connor and Harper Lee, with a bit of Faulkner.Sweeping Up Glass is Wall’s first novel and due for release in August. To read more about the author, visit The Oklahoma Arts Council where Wall is an artist-in-residence.

wakeofthe-boatman In The Wake of The Boatman by Jonathon Scott Fuqua came to me through the Editor at Bancroft Press. This novel centers around the relationship between a father and his son. Puttnam Steward, a man who is an Army hero, is also a man struggling with his identity and his desire to make his father proud of him. In The Wake of the Boatman has been described as “compelling,” “complex,” “heartfelt,” and “sensitive.”  Fuqua may be better known as a YA author having published three awarding winning books for young adults. The Reappearance of Sam Webber has won numerous awards including The Alex Award. To learn more about Fuqua and his work, visit the author’s website.


What arrived at your home this week? To share your mailbox and see links to the mailboxes of other readers, visit Marcia at The Printed Page today.