Title: Last Night in Montreal
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the publisher’s website
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. In this extraordinary debut, Emily St. John Mandel casts a powerful spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world—charged with an atmosphere of mystery, promise and foreboding—where small revelations continuously change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel’s characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.
Last Night in Montreal is a very unique novel that defies classification by genre. It is fluid, with so many different features in disparate places. Is it a mystery? Well, there is the question of Lilia’s past, of what happened to her and why she cannot stop running. There is the puzzle of what traumatic event occurred in her childhood, before she started moving from place to place. And there is the question of Michaela – how is she related to Lilia? Where does she fit into this story?
It is also a heavily psychological novel. What does constantly being on the run, thinking that you’re being followed, do to a person? What does it do to a child? What lies beneath Lilia’s constant insecurity? What about obsession, when does an interest in something become an obsession? And when does that obsession become unhealthy? What would drive a person to abandon everything he knows and cares about for something he doesn’t?
Last Night in Montreal is not really a mystery and not really a psychological novel of contemporary fiction, but it also is both of these things. It is expertly written; Mandel’s prose is beautiful and provocative. Her words convey such deep emotion, though those feelings are often repressed by the characters in question. The gorgeously atmospheric writing takes Last Night in Montreal to an entirely new level.
The entire novel gives the reader a sense of disquiet. There is a thread of uncertainty running through the book; it’s unclear what is happening at any given moment, whether what the reader is seeing is actually real. It’s a great trait, and along with the writing, serves to set the uncertain tone of Last Night in Montreal.
I thoroughly enjoyed Last Night in Montreal ; it was a wonderfully written novel unlike anything I have read recently. I believe it will appeal to a lot of different readers who appreciate different genres. I highly recommend it!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this book to review!