What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. Twilight in the altered world, a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a parking lot in the mysteriously named town of St. Deborah by the Water, Lake Michigan shining a half mile away. – from Station Eleven –
It is winter. Inside a theatre an audience is watching King Lear. A famous Hollywood actor slumps to the stage and dies. It is the final night before the world changes forever.
Station Eleven is the stunning fourth novel by the accomplished Emily St. John Mandel. Set in a post-pandemic world, the book follows the lives of six characters: the actor who dies on stage, the man who tries to save him, the actor’s first and second wives, as well as his best friend, and finally, a young child actor.
The narrative explores multiple points of view and moves back and forth in time which allows for in depth character development. The plot is multilayered and convincing. Mandel’s descriptions of the post-apoplyctic world ring true – devastating, and yet still infused with beauty.
Thematically, the novel examines the idea of connectiveness between individuals, the importance of art and literature in one’s life, faith, and the appreciation of the things we take for granted.
I have read all of Mandel’s novels – and Station Eleven is my favorite: perceptive, skillfully plotted, provocative, warm-hearted, and lyrical. Decidedly literary in style, but with the page turning quality of a suspense-thriller, Station Eleven is a gem of a novel. One of the best I’ve read this year.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher.