Last Night In Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel
3.5 stars out of 5
Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven was one of my favorite books of 2014, so I was very excited when, while browsing around Green Apple Books in San Francisco, I stumbled upon what I thought was her next novel, Last Night In Montreal. Doing some research for the post, I learned that Last Night in Montreal is actually her first book, which explains some of the parts of the writing that I felt needed a bit more refining.
Last Night in Montreal has a similar feel to Station Eleven without any of the apocalypse plot points. Like Station Eleven, we follow the lives of a few characters. Most of them we learn only surface details about. We learn about the main character, Lilia, however on a much deeper level. Each character has crossed paths with her and their stories unfold in terms of how they were affected by the storm that Lilia inflicts on their lives.
Lilia is a true nomad. We find out early on that she and her father have been constantly moving since she was a young girl, sometimes leaving a place after only being there a few days. From page one we learn cryptic details about why they are on the move and throughout the book we get more information here and there, answering the questions that arose from those initial cryptic details.
Throughout the book Lilia is struggling with the fact that she doesn’t know how to stay in one place after so many years of being on the road. I found myself identifying with Lilia in that sense and spent a lot of time questioning whether Rob and I will truly ever be able to settle in one place for a long stretch of time. Of course our nomadic lifestyle is not nearly as frenetic as Lilia’s, but the thought that I might never satisfy the desire to live in new places has crossed my mind.
All in all I enjoyed Last Night in Montreal, however I preferred the first half more than the last half. In the middle I felt that some of the storylines dragged, and I found myself getting frustrated at a lot of the characters. But she wrapped it up nicely and I felt content with how it ended.
I am eager to read more by St. John Mandel and now that I have learned she has more than two books, I plan to buy the others as soon as I finish my current book, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Review of that to come soon!