Book Review: The Lola Quartet – Emily St. John Mandel

Title: The Lola Quartet
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
ISBN: 9781609530792
Pages: 288
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Genre: Literary Fiction, Mystery
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Gavin Sasaki is a journalist living in New York City when he receives a shocking picture from his sister, Eilo, who is a real estate agent in their hometown of Sebastian, Florida. Eilo sends Gavin a picture of a young girl who looks exactly like she did at that age.  Both Eilo and Gavin have to ask themselves if this girl could be the daughter of Gavin’s high school girlfriend Anna who mysteriously disappeared and may have been pregnant at the time.  Gavin’s search for answers becomes all-consuming, as he finds himself unable to let go of the past.

Review:

Emily St. John Mandel’s third novel continues her trademark: literary fiction combined with an enticing mystery, driving the narrative forward as the reader absorbs Mandel’s beautiful writing.  Once again, her prose is stunning as she takes the reader on the twists and turns of her story.  Readers will want to fall into her lush writing and will be inspired by her vivid descriptions.  It would be difficult to praise Mandel’s writing highly enough.

The story of The Lola Quartet is confusing, at first.  It takes some time to get to know the large cast of characters and to fully understand what is happening.  The novel also jumps around quite a bit, making it difficult at times to keep everything straight.  But slowly, the book comes together, combining all of its narrative threads into one overarching detective story.  This sense of discovery is one of the main delights of the novel; at the beginning, the reader doesn’t even know what the mystery is, much less how it fits into the overall narrative.  It’s wonderful to watch all the disparate pieces across time and geography fall into place.

Gavin is an interesting character, if a depressing one.  His desperation is palpable from the first pages of the novel; he doesn’t know what he’s doing or why, but what he does know is that something has to change.  Indeed, the entire novel has a bleak, noir tone.  It makes for fascinating reading, but doesn’t offer much room for hope or optimism.  If you’re looking to be cheered up by your read, you may want to steer clear, but for those that enjoy the occasional dark novel, The Lola Quartet is a solid choice.

In the end, The Lola Quartet is a provocative novel that will leave the reader thinking.  Gavin’s actions will have readers wondering what they might do in similar situations, and as a result, this novel would make a great discussion piece for book clubs.  Mandel’s has proven herself a force to be reckoned with in the literary world with her first two novels, and The Lola Quartet lives up to the promise she’s shown thus far.

Other books by Emily St. John Mandel:

Last Night in Montreal
The Singer’s Gun

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

Comments

  1. I absolutely loved The Singer’s Gun…read it in one sitting, which never happens with me. But I have heard inconsistent things about this one, which saddens me and confuses me. It sounds like you were not bothered by any of the issues here, so that gives me hope!

  2. I absolutely loved The Singer’s Gun…read it in one sitting, which never happens with me. But I have heard inconsistent things about this one, which saddens me and confuses me. It sounds like you were not bothered by any of the issues here, so that gives me hope!

  3. I also have heard varying things, but still want to give it a try. I loved her first book, and have her second here as well. I might have to wait awhile and see if this one is for me or not. I do find it troublesome that the beginning is so puzzling and that it takes time to fully gel. Thanks for the honest review. It’s given me a counterpoint to some of the more negative ones out there.

  4. I also have heard varying things, but still want to give it a try. I loved her first book, and have her second here as well. I might have to wait awhile and see if this one is for me or not. I do find it troublesome that the beginning is so puzzling and that it takes time to fully gel. Thanks for the honest review. It’s given me a counterpoint to some of the more negative ones out there.

  5. While visiting my local indie bookstore yesterday, we were talking about Emily’s new book, as neither of us had read it yet. I think she is one of the most gracious authors I have ever met, and even though her writing is an acquired taste, she rewards those who choose to take the ride with her. I look forward to reading Lola Quartet! Thank you for your review today, Swapna!

  6. While visiting my local indie bookstore yesterday, we were talking about Emily’s new book, as neither of us had read it yet. I think she is one of the most gracious authors I have ever met, and even though her writing is an acquired taste, she rewards those who choose to take the ride with her. I look forward to reading Lola Quartet! Thank you for your review today, Swapna!

  7. I’m glad to see you gave this a good rating. I confess I only skimmed your review because I’m halfway through the book. I’m enjoying it so far. I found The Last Night in Montreal intriguing and I love her writing. I’m anxious ot finish this one to see how everything plays out.

  8. I’m glad to see you gave this a good rating. I confess I only skimmed your review because I’m halfway through the book. I’m enjoying it so far. I found The Last Night in Montreal intriguing and I love her writing. I’m anxious ot finish this one to see how everything plays out.

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy:  I welcome comments and read each one I receive. If your comment needs a response, I will provide it in a timely manner, as I read every comment I receive. Please keep your comments civil and polite! I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude or inappropriate. Because of spam, I have to moderate comments on old posts. Please be patient - I will approve your comment quickly.

Before the tag in the Genesis footer: !-- Quantcast Tag -->