Friday, 4 September 2015

Book Review: Last Night in Montreal by Emily St.John Mandel

Read: September 3 - 4    Verdict: 4.25 Stars

Lilia never stays, she always just arrives for a short time and then leaves, regardless of those she's briefly connected with. Leaving has become part of Lilia's DNA, ever since the time she was seven years old and she was taken away in the middle of the night by her father and they never stopped running from invisible pursuers.

Last Night in Montreal examines not only Lilia's story but how her story affects the others that are someway connected with her life. In much the way I found Mandel's writing to be beautifully portrayed in Station Eleven, I found the same with this book. The prose is breathtaking. Mandel has a power to weave words that only comes along now and again. I really enjoyed drinking it all in.

I love the small emphasis on different things throughout the novel, the leaving and going, the impact you can make on people's lives even if you haven't known them very long and the lost and dying languages. Are people like Lilia, perpetual travellers, a dying language? Are most people content to stay, or is it the other way round? Does everyone want to travel? Mountainside or riverside?

Mandel has a way of creating one character in her books that becomes the sole beacon of light whose rays touch upon other minor characters. I felt the same with Arthur in Station Eleven. The character becomes almost like an unintentional puppet master and with barely visible strings, manipulates so many others whose lives have been changed because of their actions. I found this extremely true in the case of the relationship between Lilia and Michaela. Lilia's story had such a devastating affect on the outcome of Michaela's life, yet they never met until they were in their twenties.

Once again, this novel proves Emily St John Mandel's skill in examining human life, and interaction. And our ability to love and let go. A beautiful piece of work.

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