Book Review || Last Night in Montreal by Emily St John Mandel


First of all, there’s a great story that goes with this book…

…and it’s nothing to do with the novel itself.

If you’ve been reading Wooden Window Sills for a while, you’ll know that I previously did a review of another book by Emily St John Mandel – Station Eleven. For Christmas, Adam and I both tried to get each other little meaningful gifts rather than anything too big, and after getting back home late on Christmas Eve, I was brimming with excitement as we gathered our presents around us. Sensing that I wouldn’t sleep so well, Adam suggested each of us choosing one gift we’d bought for each other that we could open then and there and the one he’d chosen for me was very book shaped. Before I tore off the paper, he explained that he wanted to buy me a book as I love reading (which in itself is really quite something as he hates reading and is severely dyslexic) but didn’t know what I’d like. So he trawled my reviews on here, noting what rating I’d given each book I’ve gone through until he’d worked out which was highest, which just so happened to be Station Eleven. After some googling he chose another of her four novels, which luckily I’d not yet read. So there you go, this is why I’m now writing this review for you, and a little romantic and thoughtful tale to make you all feel a little nauseous before your dinner!

Anyway, onto this marvelous tale!

Lilia is a beautifully crafted, insecure and talented lead focus throughout. She is both enchanting and mystifying – speaking multiple languages, finding sanctity in lists and noticing the little things no one else does. However, from the first page when the novel opens, we learn she has never stopped travelling. From her forgotten childhood and across America and Canada, her life has never stayed still in one place for long. That is, much to the interest of Christopher, who spends a large chunk of his life looking for her (I won’t tell you who he is or why in case that spoils the plot!).

Meanwhile, poor old Eli, Lilia’s boyfriend, is left confused and stranded in Brooklyn as she disappears off once again without a trace, leaving him heartbroken and bereft. Only when a surprise note from stranger appears on a postcard, does Eli decide that it’s worth joining the trail followed by many in the ever elusive search for Lilia.

Last night in Montreal touches on a great number of themes – from child abuse to obsession, love and resentment. It follows the complicated twisting of different lives as they cross paths that show just how many lives one person can affect, without ever having to meet them directly.

I’d definitely recommend it, especially after reading Station Eleven, it’s a very different novel, but equally one about a long and extended journey to somewhere unknown. In less than 250 you will be captivated and kept in the dark, but it’s short enough that soon find the answers you’re looking for without ever having to put it down!

Rating: 8.5/10

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