Last Night in Montreal, Paperback
5 out of 5 (2 ratings)

Description

From the New York Times bestselling author of Station Eleven. Lilia has been leaving people behind her entire life.

Haunted by her inability to remember her early childhood, and by a mysterious shadow that seems to dog her wherever she goes, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and friends along the way.

But then she meets Eli, and he's not ready to let her go, not without a fight. Gorgeously written, charged with tension and foreboding, Emily St.

John Mandel's Last Night in Montreal is the story of a life spent at the centre of a criminal investigation.

It is a novel about identity, love and amnesia, the depths and limits of family bonds and - ultimately - about the nature of obsession.

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Reviews

Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by
5

I suspect that I will look back on 2015 as the year of Emily St John Mandel. Until a few days ago I might have been tempted to put money on her marvellous novel 'Station Eleven' being the finest book I will read this year. That, however, was before my boss recommended her first novel, 'Last Night in Montreal'.Right from the first page, when Lilia leaves the Brooklyn apartment that she shares with mature PhD student Eli, I was captivated by this beguiling story. Lilia is beautiful, speaks four languages and can't stop travelling. She also has a complicated past.As the novel opens she is in her early twenties and has been travelling through America, moving from city to city and never staying for long in any one place. We soon learn that this has been the story of her life, as far as she can remember. She was born in Montreal, though her parents separated shortly afterwards. Denied access for years, her father abducted her one evening and, having hastily driven south across the border, they just kept on moving. Mandel drip feeds us little gobbets of information about the principal characters, moving around in time and place. Her father had taken on various careers after leaving Lilia's mother, from one of which he derived a sizeable fortune which would subsequently fund their chaotic odyssey throughout mainland America. Eli has been studying dying languages, and enchants Lilia with some of his descriptions of metaphors and similes in remote dialects that completely defy translation. Christopher is a private investigator hired to try to find and retrieve the abducted Lilia, though he gradually succumbs to a protective obsession with his quarry, to the extent that he neglects Michaela, his own young daughter back in Montreal. Michaela just wants to run away with the circus.From these seemingly inchoate characters Mandel weaves a beautiful tapestry that manages to combine a road story with a lucid dissection of love, longing, loss, obsession and hope, with a gentle sprinkling of philology thrown in. What is more, she encompasses all this in just 250 pages that, once begun, are difficult to put down.

Review by
5

I first read this book a few months ago as a consequence of having been amazed by Emily St John Mandel's 'Station Eleven', which I heartily expected would romp home for the title of finest book that I would read during 2015. Marvellous though 'Station Eleven' was, however (and I recently re-read it, too, and found it even more enjoyable second time around), I think that 'Last Night in Montreal' eclipses it.Right from the first page, when Lilia leaves the Brooklyn apartment that she shares with mature PhD student Eli, I was captivated by this hypnotic story. Lilia is beautiful, speaks four languages and can't stop travelling. She also has a complicated past.As the novel opens she is in her early twenties and has been travelling through America, moving from city to city and never staying for long in any one place. We soon learn that this has been the story of her life, as far as she can remember. She was born in Montreal, though her parents separated shortly afterwards. Denied access for years, her father abducted her one evening and, having hastily driven south across the border into America, they just kept on moving. Mandel drip feeds us little gobbets of information about the principal characters, moving around in time and place. Her father had taken on various careers after leaving Lilia's mother, from one of which he derived a sizeable fortune which would subsequently fund their chaotic odyssey throughout mainland America. Eli has been studying dying languages, and enchants Lilia with some of his descriptions of metaphors and similes in remote dialects that completely defy translation. Christopher is a private investigator hired to try to find and retrieve the abducted Lilia, though he gradually succumbs to a protective obsession with his quarry, to the extent that he neglects Michaela, his own young daughter back in Montreal. Michaela just wants to run away with the circus.From these seemingly inchoate characters Mandel weaves a beautiful tapestry that manages to combine a road story with a lucid dissection of love, longing, loss, obsession and hope, with a gentle sprinkling of philology thrown in. What is more, she encompasses all this in just 250 pages that, once begun, are difficult to put down. The story is beautifully written, and the final chapter contains some of the most beguiling pages I have ever read.

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