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

16 Jul

Last Night in MontrealMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a beautiful book that pulled me into the lives of the characters.

From the Unbridled Books web page:

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.

I was fascinated by Lilia’s childhood on the run, in seeing the effect on her as an adult, and puzzling the reasons behind what had happened to her.

I was hooked on this book when Eli explained his interest in dead and dying languages. Eli’s character was lost– not sure where he was going with his own life. When Lilia steps into his life, then back out again, he wants to help her, and to make sure she is OK. He pursues her for that reason, but this may be the way to finding his own path.

Michaela was even more interesting than the two main characters. Her father had left her alone as a teenager (her mother left earlier) in order to pursue Lilia and the father that abducted her. Michaela forges a link between herself and the person she holds responsible for stealing her father away– Lilia.

The complex relationships in the book are well portrayed.

I read this book for the Twitter Book Club. The last time I tried to particpate in a Twitter Book Club discussion (two months ago with Sag Harbor), Twitter didn’t cooperate, but this time everything went smoothly. There were interesting insights on the book. I hadn’t really thought about the writing– I was just happy it didn’t get in my way– but others pointed out that this was the result of beautifully crafted minimalist prose. I enjoyed having the author’s view of the characters and events of the book.


Posted by on July 16, 2009 in Book Club, books, reviews, Twitter


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8 responses to “Review: Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

  1. Britt, Book Habitue

    July 16, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Interesting. Adding it to my tbr list!

  2. Emily St. John Mandel

    July 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks so much for your review! Glad you enjoyed the book. It was fun participating in that Twitter Book Club chat.

  3. Literary Feline

    July 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I agree, Michaela was a very interesting character. I enjoyed this one quite a bit too. Great review, Laura!

  4. Lisa

    July 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    My book club is reading this for September. I recommended it but then couldn’t remember where I had read about it. I’m really glad to see that it’s getting so many great reviews.

  5. Jennifer

    August 7, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    I have just completed this book in astounding timing to parallel my life (unfortunately). I love how this seems to happen often.

    I was taken back by some of the profound ideas in this book, and I loved how Mandel went out on a limb with characters without making the plot completely unbelievable.

    My only complaint would be that there was a hefty chunk of this book which droned on a little bit about Lilia and her father on the road for about eight years. I was rather hoping she would’ve delved more into the artistic idiosyncrasies that both Eli, Lilia and Michaela were very memorable for. I feel as though I wasn’t prepared to read a “detective mystery” novel for the most of it.

    I think the value of the originality in the beginning and end would draw me back to this book though. An excellent first for Emily Mandel though!

  6. BookwormMari

    September 10, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Thanks for your review. I just finished my review and linked to your site. My bookclub is discussing this book with the author later this month 🙂


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