web site hit counter Last Night in Montreal - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Last Night in Montreal

Availability: Ready to download

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detectiv Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she s safe. 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 change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel's characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.


Compare

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detectiv Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she s safe. 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 change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel's characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.

30 review for Last Night in Montreal

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    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 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 I ran across it. Why has a private detective been following Lilia Albert for most of her life? This story follows the events that sent Lilia and her father on the run, her unconventional childhood, and the detective who became obsessed with her case. As an adult, Lilia has incredible difficulty staying in one place for too long or sticking with a romantic relationship for any length of time. In her soul she wishes she could settle, but she is always restless. The questions about her childhood, the events that led her father to steal her away in the midst of a cold wintry night, haunts her even though she is an adult now and her father has remarried has a new family. But, Lilia isn’t the only one whose life was left in a strange kind of limbo. Also, deeply affected, like a snowball effect are Lilia’s half- brother, who knows more than he’s telling- the detective who has become so obsessed he deserts his own wife and child, and every single person Lilia has left behind. Lilia’s most recent boyfriend, is determined to find her, becoming nearly as obsessed as the detective who still searches for her, after all this time, even though she is an adult now. The writing is stark and the atmosphere is heavy, fraught with a fitful frustration. Lilia’s frustration stemming from her inability to remember anything prior to her father’s sudden late-night arrival, the frustration felt by those who want to be close to Lilia, and frustration by those who are looking for her, but have been thwarted in their mission time and time again. But, one of the most profound elements of the story is the effect Lilia has had, by proxy on the detective's family, who have found themselves abandoned, even replaced by an obsession they can’t fully comprehend. The story is sad, moody, and dark with a taut psychological tone that kept me invested in the story. One will gather early on, even if no details are initially forthcoming, most of the whys and wherefores of the events that led Lilia to this point in her life. While I could understand her flightiness and her compulsive nature, I’m not sure I could really understand the way so many people became fixated on her. It’s like the Winston Churchill quote: It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key. The possibility that there is a key is what may be driving these people to continue a fruitless quest that comes at such an incredibly high cost to so many people. The ending is so emotional and melancholy, and while I wasn't happy with some developments, at all, the conclusion hints at forgiveness, and also grants Lilia a wish that could, after all this time, give her enough ammunition to finally find overdue peace of mind and grant her the ability to finally stop her nomadic life and enjoy a bit of normalcy. This book is gripping, the pacing is quite slow. For me this only added to the suspense, forcing me to acquire virtuous patience, which did indeed reap rewards. The writing is just amazing, very impressive, which now has me curious to see what other books this author has written. I’ll definitely read more of her work! 4 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    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 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 together into a brilliantly disturbing tale. It reads like an art house film. The conversations are interesting, the characters complex and somewhat wacky and the setting ever changing. The mystery deepens and then the reveal starts to appear, foggy at first and then stunningly, shockingly crystal clear. It’s a tale brilliantly told by a writer I’m starting to think of as one of my very favourite story tellers. If you’ve read her her brilliant and best selling Station Eleven, then her style will be somewhat familiar. If you haven't then you have that joy to look forward to. Emily St John Mandel is a fantastic talent – no time to waste, I’ll be grabbing the other two novels she’s penned faster than a toupee in a hurricane!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    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 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 Station Eleven came out. Such a lovely person!!!! ¥...old review from 2011: I’m in *aw* of this new young author. She's intriguing to me. Her book was beautifully written (SO CLEAN ---not filled extra junk). At times, I read her sentences 'over & over', (almost a poetic style)--- JUST lovely choice of words! "Her voice was somnambulant" ....."her voice was a current through fitful dreams" ----[well, I'll tell ya....I had my own 'nightmare'---involving rushing waters-- after thinking about this section of the book]....NO KIDDING--- Then restless sleep ---(woke thinking about this book). Unusual-different story. Interesting Characters. ....'Chilling' Story.... one that I will linger with me for some time. I'm glad I read this book. I'm glad to have had my first intro. with Emily St. John Mandel ---(cheers for her!!!) I really enjoyed this book--(intense in parts)-- Also: charming small romance in the beginning ---(I was completely absorbed in their 'bonding-style') ....I wanted to replay the 'pomegranate' scene over and over. (great visuals). Hm....gave me some sexy-fun ideas! lol

  4. 4 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    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 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 the writing is gorgeous. I never felt bored or put off by the simple premise. And yet, in the end, I'm left with a "so what?" opinion on it all. Character motivation is the hook that drives the plot forward--why are they all so crazy??--but we never receive satisfying explanations. There are many clues to suggest motivation, but they are so subtle and sometimes contradictory that I feel no real answers are available to the reader. Not even enough hints to inspire a substantial discussion about it. Especially Christopher. What's his deal?? He is by far the craziest character and is given the least explanation. Overall, it's good but not great. Were it a longer novel I'd be more upset by the unsatisfying conclusion, but as a breathless short read it works okay.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    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 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 the characters in this book and I couldn't help feeling it was like an adolescent insecurity to load all her characters so heavily with the exotic. Another character, the private investigator, is the son of a circus lion tamer. He possesses otherworldly powers of ESP. Her female characters are much more engaging than her male characters who, in this novel at least, are one dimensionally obsessive. The marvel though is that, despite how often the pretentious claptrap of her characters irritated me, it's an oddly compelling book. I never really believed what I was being told and yet the clever way the book's structured and the quality of the descriptive writing made it an enjoyable read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gillian

    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 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 sooo intriguing and interesting and different and beautiful and no matter where she goes without even trying or even speaking men and women just fall all over themselves to be with her and isn't her life so tragic. I don't like this free spirit character. I don't like her when I encounter her in real life and don't like her in movies and I don't like her in the book and it makes me not really like or care about the people that are in love with her and since those two characters comprise most of the cast of the story, it's hard for me to say I like this book. Maybe if there were something that seemed more real and less dramatic about Lilia, something that wasn't just the lingering "I don't know how to say" oh my god isn't that so romantic and heartbreaking then I could like the people and therefore their stories a little bit more.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    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. 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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    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!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Trudie

    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 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 a sort of artistic vision that I think more suits a graphic novel telling. On the plus side Montreal gets a good portrayal here, and I did enjoy the road-trip aspects. Overall Last Night in Montreal seems to be suffering from some kind of an identity crisis, resting somewhere in a netherworld between a noir-ish mystery, family road trip novel and a Cirque du Soleil foundation story. Still I look forward to reading The Glass Hotel with an open mind ;)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Brown

    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. 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anita Pomerantz

    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, 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, to elaborate on their roles would remove much of the suspense of the book . . .a lot of Mandel's prowess is storytelling, and how she unveils the details in a way that leaves readers wanting more. All in all, I really enjoyed the writing. It's hard to believe it's a debut. But the motivations of the characters seem fuzzy and incompletely formed, and for that reason, I can't dole out that fifth star, and I think other readers may be completely dissatisfied. Short story lovers should pick this one up. If you don't like short stories, I doubt this one is for you.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paltia

    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 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 chaos and fate life presents them. In either case no one remains stuck for too long as the choices they make keep them and the story on the move.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    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 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 grinder mounted to the wall, measuring by eye, and then turned the iron handle until the smell of ground coffee filled the room." A lovely image. Plenty of carefully selected wording. Nothing necessarily incorrect about it at all. But even a slightly distracted reader will not need reminders that the handle is iron, the beans are being ground, or the smell is coffee. This kind of overembellishment happens frequently, turning what could have been a powerful novella into a prolonged tale of woe told by a drunk stranger you can't seem to shake. There are unintentionally comical turns of phrase along the way - the result of awkward word placement - which bring unexpected levity: "His thesis deadline passed like a signpost through a slow car window..." This led me to ponder if it is even worth repairing a car window if it was already slow before the signpost went through it? "His thesis deadline passed like a signpost beyond the window of a slow-moving car" was obviously what the author was aiming for, but it's not what she gave us. Several lyrical turns of phrase simply do not hold up to scrutiny. For example, St. John Mandel twice asserts that the Polaroid photo of a 12-year-old Lilia was captured in a diner "somewhere in the middle of the continent", more specifically "in a Southern state". This is an odd, US-centric assertion coming from a Canadian writer who should know that Winnepeg or Fargo are pretty much the center of North America, and nowhere near the Arizona-Mexico border. In addition there are scattered errors that should never have made it to print: "...and lights changed from green to red to yellow to green again..." Not in Brooklyn they didn't. So I'm willing to admit that St. John Mandel has the talent and desire to pen a really good novel, if she can just trust her instincts and not overthink things. I liked "Station Eleven" better, and hope that "The Glass Hotel" reveals that she has hit her stride at last.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Johanna Schussler

    I struggled with rating this book. I didn't really like any of the characters, and I found myself having to suspend a lot of disbelief. The way Christopher treated his family, for example, and particularly his daughter. There were also some logical inconsistencies that I found distracting (for example, if Eli had studied French in high school, why couldn't he understand the phone number when it was given in French numbers?). So initially, I thought I just didn't like the book. However. The autho I struggled with rating this book. I didn't really like any of the characters, and I found myself having to suspend a lot of disbelief. The way Christopher treated his family, for example, and particularly his daughter. There were also some logical inconsistencies that I found distracting (for example, if Eli had studied French in high school, why couldn't he understand the phone number when it was given in French numbers?). So initially, I thought I just didn't like the book. However. The author was working with some really interesting themes: language, meaning and understanding. Authentic vs superficial experience. Traveling vs. running away. Abandonment and being found. Love and relationships, particularly within families. The way these themes is explored is also interesting: Two girls, the same age. One is abducted by her father to keep her safe. The other is abandoned by her father as he searches for the other. One girl 'travels' freely and speaks many languages. The other longs for travel and cannot speak the language of her own city. They each hold the answer to the other's question. I'm not quite doing it justice, but the themes are interesting and big. The writing is atmospheric and beautiful. All in all, a 3 1/2 in my mind. Definitely worth reading. Lots to think about. Fun to discuss with a book group.

  16. 5 out of 5

    George Pence

    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. Why? I guarantee, 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. Why? I guarantee, every explanation you've conjured to answer that question is off the mark. But to call this story simply "a mystery" is to sell it short. It's a beautifully written exploration of the fact that people often do hurtful and destructive things for reasons that are purely personal, but quite valid. And usually those affected are left with a twisted mess of hurt, confusion and even anger. There's a simple truth, people we care about can hurt us. However, it's unwise to assume, no matter how deeply we're effected, that what they did had anything at all to do with us. I really loved this story and Ms. St. John Mandel is a very gifted writer.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    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 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 first novel really captured the essence of what it is to feel lost and listless, unrooted and unknown, to not know one's self and perpetually failing to find one's self but not for want of trying. As always, in my reading of this novel, I am a beneficiary of a high threshold for plotless narratives. This is not a story about what happens, but about who we become when our interior identity becomes unmoored, and is challenged by our relationships with others. This was a meditative, thoughtful read, which reminded me exactly why I love Mandel's writing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    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 something......to 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. 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 something......to 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.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erin (from Long Island, NY)

    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.❤️

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    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 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 and child abuse by a mother in another family, rounded out by criminal abduction by another father. The two daughters of the two families — the abused Lilia and the abandoned Michaela — are linked by the creepy obsessive pursuit of the fleeing Lilia and her father by Michaela’s father and, later, by the obsessive pursuit of the adult Lilia by her one-time boyfriend. Both Lilia and Michaela, although superficially so different from each other, share not only uprootedness but also unrootedness: familial, relationship, and geographic for Lilia, and familial, relationship, and linguistic for Michaela. Mandel provides repeated character shadows of flight, travel, abandonment, obsession, patriarchal protection throughout Last Night. . .: Lilia and Michaela; Lilia’s and Michaela’s fathers; and Eli and Michaela’s father. The actions and personalities of these five characters defy easy understanding: for me, part of the appeal of Last Night. . . is that its characters are not fully knowable and not even particularly likable. Mandel has a marvelous imagination for creating unusual, surprising characters. I first read Last Night. . . in 2015 during a brief Mandel reading binge, and I’ve remembered and pondered it since then. Some readers, more careful than I, might fault it for some occasional plot twists that might seem less than credible; some readers, looking for more than a memorably entertaining novel, might fault it for a lack of profundity. But Mandel is a remarkably deft story-teller, and Last Night in Montreal is a memorable, thought-provoking, and beautifully told story. 4.5 stars

  21. 5 out of 5

    Micheal Fraser

    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 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 one morning on this Last Night in Montreal.The language and style pulled me into the book and before long I forgot the dogs and had to gulp it down. It is a remarkable look at two young women who had completely different childhoods yet ended up being detached from the world around them and who each held the final clue, the final piece of motivation for the other to connect with life in one case, and to end life in the other. A sense of loss, of yearning and of obsession informs the book but doesn't overpower it. I really loved the characters of Lilia and Eli and eventually Michaela and how bound together they are in such an alienating world. The story just came alive and the endless runnings away of LIlia and her father, the New York City of Eli and Lilia ,and finally the Montreal of Eli and Michaela were as strong as any of the other characters. I really loved this book. I think that Emily St. John Mandel will haunt me like Michael Chabon. Long after reading, the story, the characters will stay with me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katie Long

    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

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim Elkins

    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 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 it is ornamented by a body of knowledge: the study of vanishing languages. The principal character, Eli, is writing his thesis (PhD dissertation) on the subject, and he is in love with a woman who has been vanishing her entire life: she was taken by her father from an abusive mother, and the father and daughter traveled for many years. The woman, Lilia, falls in love with Eli and takes a deep interest in his work. The book has many stories about exotic words and unusual languages. It is a common strategy to choose a corpus of knowledge and mine it for allegories and tropes. But it is seldom done well. In some books Richard Powers pulls it off wonderfully, and in others less so. You don't want to lecture the reader, and you don't want to break the suspension of disbelief by compelling your reader to ask how the author did her research. But above all it's not a good idea to parade facts as ready-made allegories. The following passage has all three faults: "Or the Australian Guugu Yimithir, a language of ferociously absolute positioning, in which there is no way to tell someone, for instance, that Lilia is standing to your left; you'd have to say, instead, 'Lilia is standing to the west of me.'" (p. 44) This pontificates, it raises the specter of Mandel, peering into her book of vanishing languages and copying out the crazy exotic name of the language, and it presents us with yet another ready-made allegory for the difficulty Eli has in keeping, and later locating, Lilia. How to get around this? I can think of two possibilities. 1. Do your research. There are a number of popular books on vanishing and dead languages, and Mandel must have some of them. But she has no professional-level literature. Her examples are often commonplace, and have a number of errors corrected in the scholarship. No one could write a PhD thesis listing 3,000 words that do not exist in other languages, because the very idea that the reason to save languages is the uniqueness and untranslatability of particular words has itself been debated in the literature since the 1940s. His topic wouldn't be approved as a thesis, because it's been done many times in popular literature. Much more interesting things are happening in the field than debates about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, as it is called. It doesn't matter if a novel misrepresents a specialized field, or invents facts. What counts is that the real subject, comparative linguistics or ethnolinguistics, could have provided Mandel with far more interesting examples. It pays to do serious, concerted research to get inside the academic languages, so they can be brought into the novel from the inside, as if they are spoken. Eli could have talked and thought in more involved, surprising, and textured ways. If the subject was languages, grammars, lexica, and etymologies, rather than individual words, then the languages of scholarship, and the languages the scholars study, could have been woven into Eli's writing and speaking. That could have made his inner world much more complex, and, I think, more convincing. I would rather have encountered Eli's immersion in his subject (which Mandel describes as an obsessive, long-term fascination) as excerpts of an entirely new way of thinking, rather than as talking points from the popularized literature. This isn't a fault specific to this book. For me, the lack of real Chinese references in Canetti's "Auto-da-fe" is one of its problems. Even though he studied Asian languages, it doesn't seem to occur to Canetti that he could mention the fact that his housekeeper couldn't arrange his library in alphabetical order if she didn't read Chinese. (That is, the traditional Chinese ordering isn't alphabetical.) The fact that she does arrange his Chinese titles in alphabetical order shows that what matters to the author is the projection of erudition, and that puts a distance between reader, narrator, and implied author. 2. Don't be afraid to invent. I can't be absolutely sure Mandel hasn't invented, but I recognize enough of her material to doubt she has. It isn't common to invent science or social science in a novel. Partly that's because it would be perceived as a leap into genre fiction or science fiction, but mainly because it isn't part of the imaginative project of contemporary novels to toy with science in that way. Jeffrey Eugenides said in an interview in the New York Times that he was proud of the science he'd had to learn, and it wouldn't be hard to assemble a number of such examples. But aside from the necessity of avoiding the appearance of having invented the science (which would turn the novel toward science fiction), is there a good reason not to change any of the science that goes into a novel? If everything else in a novel is invented or altered according to the novelist's wishes, why not the science? If Mandel had invented languages and words her book might have had a different texture, one less like a love story peppered with academic citations. I don't think this is an easy problem, and I don't think these two solutions cover the field. I'm still pondering other ways to work, but either or both of these could have contributed to making "Last Night in Montreal" more compelling.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    3.5* rounded up

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amena

    'How deep in our genes is the longing for flight embedded? We always were a species of nomads. Absorbed from page one. Never wanted to put it down. Finished in a few days but I could easily have finished it in one. Not your average book about a girl that goes missing. Intertwined with themes of love, kinship, friendship, family and being thankful. No wonder I loved Station Eleven if this is how good her first book was. A whopping 5 stars and worthy of every one. 'How deep in our genes is the longing for flight embedded? We always were a species of nomads. Absorbed from page one. Never wanted to put it down. Finished in a few days but I could easily have finished it in one. Not your average book about a girl that goes missing. Intertwined with themes of love, kinship, friendship, family and being thankful. No wonder I loved Station Eleven if this is how good her first book was. A whopping 5 stars and worthy of every one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Lilia is a wanderer. She can remember nothing before the age of seven; her memories exist from the night when her father took from her mother. Her life has been one of perpetual motion ever since, nights spent in anonymous motel rooms and days spent hiding on the back seat of her father’s car, as they travel back and forth across North America. She occasionally leaves cryptic notes in the bibles in the rooms, and has a nagging feeling of being followed, but being the centre of an abduction case Lilia is a wanderer. She can remember nothing before the age of seven; her memories exist from the night when her father took from her mother. Her life has been one of perpetual motion ever since, nights spent in anonymous motel rooms and days spent hiding on the back seat of her father’s car, as they travel back and forth across North America. She occasionally leaves cryptic notes in the bibles in the rooms, and has a nagging feeling of being followed, but being the centre of an abduction case makes her and her father very wary. As Lilia got older she stayed longer in places, even collecting friends and lovers, before leaving them hurt and confused as she moves on to the next city. One morning she does the same to Eli, just popping out to get something before vanishing completely; but he wasn’t ready to let her go yet. Having almost nothing to go on, he starts to dig a little deeper into her background, discovers her location, and slowly starts to uncover her past and why she has this obsession with keeping moving. This haunting and beautifully written novel is one that is deeply layered with secret after secret. As the narrative switches back and forth these are revealed gradually to you. It is unnerving and disturbing too, as Mandell builds the storyline around events that people would rather not think about, like abduction and stalking. The characters are flawed, not in a sinister way, just more quirky and intriguing by having these untold secrets that affect their relationships as they orbit each others lives. I am not keen on stories that jump back and forth so much, but in this book it works, as she can only reveal a glimpse of where they have been and where they are going. Great stuff.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    I loved Station Eleven and was very interested in reading more books by the author. So now I'm reading them in reverse in a way, started with her latest and this one came out 7 years ago. Impossible not to compare and fascinating to see the author mature (most salient example is the moral at one point plated and served with all too convenient cogency), but the talent, the huge amount of talent, apparently was always present. This book was a smaller story, fewer characters, more reality based tha I loved Station Eleven and was very interested in reading more books by the author. So now I'm reading them in reverse in a way, started with her latest and this one came out 7 years ago. Impossible not to compare and fascinating to see the author mature (most salient example is the moral at one point plated and served with all too convenient cogency), but the talent, the huge amount of talent, apparently was always present. This book was a smaller story, fewer characters, more reality based than speculative and yet a beauty in its own right, featuring a tumbleweed of a woman, a father who encourages the traveling lifestyle by default, a man who is desperately in love with her, a private detective obsessed with her and the private detective's daughter resentful of her. Terrific characters, stunningly strikingly flawed humanity, best motivations paving the road all the way across US and onto Canada. Private detective's obsession reads like something straight out of Paul Auster's New York Trilogy (that's a compliment). Lilia's and her fathers flight...without comparison. Strange how too much conventional freedom (no ties, no commitments, etc.) can be a trap in and of itself. The plot is crafted so cleverly, precisely, just the right amounts of information released at any one time to propel the story forward. The narrative is absolutely gorgeous, there is a sheer hypnotic quality to it, it engages completely and reads so enjoyable and quickly. Very impressive. Very lovely. Enthusiastically recommended.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    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 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 that she would not reveal her mysteries. Since this entire story is a mystery, we are drawn right in by the bereft puzzlement suffered by Eli, a frustrated grad student unable to complete his thesis on endangered languages. Eventually Eli goes in search of Lilia and her story is revealed: abusive insane mother, rescuing father, a life on the road, a detective in pursuit. A horrific story of alienation and frustrated dreams emerges, centered on a woman who does not remember the defining incident of her life. Mandel's writing is a crystal clear style of unpretentious storytelling. She could write a page-turning thriller, and in a sense she has, but it is the characters and their relationships that thrill. The feeling is almost gothic but the lives are embedded in our times. Daphne du Maurier reincarnated? Near the end, when you know almost everything, all you want to know is will Lilia and Eli find each other again?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I am dumbfounded that this is a debut novel. The pacing is impeccable, the characters are intriguing and well developed. The details the author chooses to highlight are poetic and evocative, and the paragraphs are well crafted. My one critique (and this has nothing to do with the author) is that the cover image is a little TOO specific to the story. I might have chosen something from the earlier part of Lilia's story, like a stark motel room or the isolated payphone, something that captures a sp I am dumbfounded that this is a debut novel. The pacing is impeccable, the characters are intriguing and well developed. The details the author chooses to highlight are poetic and evocative, and the paragraphs are well crafted. My one critique (and this has nothing to do with the author) is that the cover image is a little TOO specific to the story. I might have chosen something from the earlier part of Lilia's story, like a stark motel room or the isolated payphone, something that captures a specific feeling rather than a specific incident... But all in all, extremely impressive.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Livingston

    This was super enjoyable - beautifully written, deftly constructed and with an interesting enough set of central mysteries to keep me reading on. Mandel is a brilliant storyteller and the pacing and perspective-switching is all handled really well. The characters though were all a bit empty for me - mysteriously beautiful young women, frustrated intellectual young men and a grizzled and obsessive private investigator - none felt particularly real to me. Still, Mandel's writing is so good that I This was super enjoyable - beautifully written, deftly constructed and with an interesting enough set of central mysteries to keep me reading on. Mandel is a brilliant storyteller and the pacing and perspective-switching is all handled really well. The characters though were all a bit empty for me - mysteriously beautiful young women, frustrated intellectual young men and a grizzled and obsessive private investigator - none felt particularly real to me. Still, Mandel's writing is so good that I didn't really mind.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.