The Glass Hotel
From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it's the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent's half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: "Why don't you swallow broken glass." Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

The Glass Hotel Details

TitleThe Glass Hotel
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 24th, 2020
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139780525521143
Rating
GenreFiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Adult, Mystery

The Glass Hotel Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Emily St. John Mandel writes an exquisite other worldly novel, slightly surreal as if peering through a misted looking glass, of alternative realities, paths not taken, ghosts, of a diverse and disparate cast of characters, their lives and connections revealed as the narrative goes back and forth in time. It is a story of greed, immense wealth, a financial empire built on the shifting sands of an international Ponzi scheme, reflecting the real life example of Bernie Madoff, and the financial Emily St. John Mandel writes an exquisite other worldly novel, slightly surreal as if peering through a misted looking glass, of alternative realities, paths not taken, ghosts, of a diverse and disparate cast of characters, their lives and connections revealed as the narrative goes back and forth in time. It is a story of greed, immense wealth, a financial empire built on the shifting sands of an international Ponzi scheme, reflecting the real life example of Bernie Madoff, and the financial collapse in 2008. Mandel tracks her victims and perpetrators with their interwoven lives, the characterisation sharp yet subtle, nuanced, with the capacity to see the humanity of both in a profoundly moving way. She intricately pieces together different lives, structured to intrigue, with answers that comes together holistically at the end.Vincent is a bartender at the 5 star Hotel Caiette, located in the far north of Vancouver Island, where a message has been written on the glass wall of the lobby, 'Why don't you swallow broken glass'. This has Leon Prevant, a shipping executive, needing a drink, but the message is missed by the intended target, the owner of the hotel and investment manager, Jonathan Alkaitis. The meeting that night of Vincent and Jonathan, leads to her becoming a 'trophy wife', whose life becomes opened to a world of untold wealth and riches. However, with the swift collapse of the financial empire, lives are ruined and devastated, individuals and retirement pensions wiped out. Her brother Paul, a drug addict with a love of music, studies finance, becoming a drop out. The story begins and ends with Vincent's disappearance from the Neptune Cumberland, between which are skilfully woven in glimpses of the lives lived, greed, ghosts, corruption, regrets, reflections on paths not taken, grief, loss, memory, conscience and an overwhelming sense of guilt.Mandel is a powerful, beautiful and offbeat writer, so atmospheric, evocative, dreamy, lingering in her wide range of often surprising locations, her scope in location and character is extraordinary. This novel felt artistic, ambitious, and highly imaginative, although possibly it may not appeal to some readers as it demands patience before its direction and purpose become clear. This is a stunning and spellbinding read, unforgettable, gripping as it penetrates the themes of financial crisis, its repercussions and the process of survival. Cannot recommend this highly enough. Many thanks to Pan Macmillan for an ARC.
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  • Marchpane
    January 1, 1970
    You may be wondering if The Glass Hotel is anything like Emily St John Mandels previous novel Station Eleven? The answer is no. AND yes.Dont get me wrong, The Glass Hotel is a very different kind of book. Its setting is realistic, not speculative. In place of Station Elevens focus on art (Shakespeare, music, comics) there is filthy lucre specifically a Ponzi scheme bearing a striking resemblance to Bernie Madoffs massive fraud. The romanticism of Station Eleven its starlit gauziness and You may be wondering if The Glass Hotel is anything like Emily St John Mandel’s previous novel Station Eleven? The answer is no. AND yes.Don’t get me wrong, The Glass Hotel is a very different kind of book. Its setting is realistic, not speculative. In place of Station Eleven’s focus on art (Shakespeare, music, comics) there is filthy lucre – specifically a Ponzi scheme bearing a striking resemblance to Bernie Madoff’s massive fraud. The romanticism of Station Eleven – its starlit gauziness and heady atmosphere, beauty seen in a wildflower by the side of a highway clogged with rusted automobile carcasses – is dialled down here. Mandel’s writing is as evocative as ever, but her emphasis has shifted. In this novel full of morally questionable individuals, there aren’t as many pinpricks of light. And yet common threads do emerge. Both books have a diffuse cast of characters; both narratives skip forwards and backwards, orbiting a central catastrophic worldwide event that forever bisects life into a before and an after. Station Eleven’s was a flu pandemic, The Glass Hotel’s is the 2008 financial crisis, which triggers the Ponzi scheme’s collapse. In both, the fallout from the singular event claims lives, and those that do survive are set to wandering.There are more direct links too. Characters from the earlier book reappear here, and the idea of parallel universes – first raised in Station Eleven when characters imagine “a universe in which civilization hadn’t been so brutally interrupted” – also recurs. Mandel ties this to her theme of regret: the characters’ rueful ‘if only’ thinking manifests as reverberations between alternate realities, the ghost versions of lives that might have been, had they made different choices. It’s as if Station Eleven – which had the feeling of a dream all along – is Oz and The Glass Hotel is Kansas. From parallel worlds arise parallel tales, different tonally but at heart, similar compositions. Mandel’s sensitive characterisations, meticulous layers, and musings on loss, regret and the frangibility of life are all here. It’s just a little less magical. 4 stars.
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  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    Im just blinking, giving blank looks, a mesmerized expression on my faceThis is spectacular When I admire someones extraordinary mind and extremely talented creative skills, any word to describe the work he/she created will not be enough to express my feelings. Emily St. John Mandel is the wizard and genius to surprise us how perfectly crafted words and smart story-telling, impeccably developed and layered characterization change our worlds. This book is real puzzle: all the pieces perfectly I’m just blinking, giving blank looks, a mesmerized expression on my face…This is spectacular… When I admire someone’s extraordinary mind and extremely talented creative skills, any word to describe the work he/she created will not be enough to express my feelings. Emily St. John Mandel is the wizard and genius to surprise us how perfectly crafted words and smart story-telling, impeccably developed and layered characterization change our worlds. This book is real puzzle: all the pieces perfectly scattered around the chapters. You have to give your entire focus on the details because anything you read at those chapters and any clue about one character’s ordinary action create ripple effects on the other character’s main dilemma. We’re going back and forth during 19 years long timeline and we’re introduced with remarkable self- absorbed, swindler characters. They’re restless opportunists who knows seize the leverages for their own benefits, haunted by the choices they’ve made, facing the ghosts of their past mistakes. Paul, spending his early 20’s dropping out and going back to rehab because of his drug addiction, kicking out from his house, reluctantly choosing the finance as a major even though he has great interest in music but a tragic incident he gets involved ( sharing drugs with the band members who want to befriend results with the death and now the ghost of the very same band member is chasing him everywhere!) , goes back to his father’s house, trying to form a bond with 13 year old step sister Vincent( strange name for a girl. No, she wasn’t named after the painter, it is middle name of her mother’s favorite poet!) who recently lost her mother. But his father is adamant to send Vincent to live with her aunt. After 4 years later, Vincent and Paul get back together at the dilapidated neighborhood surrounded by drug addicts. That’s where Vincent and her roommate lives and they are getting ready to welcome new millennium as Hotel Caiette’s - five star glass- construction continues. And a few years later we see Vincent working as a bartender, she helps to Paul getting a job as well but when his brother writes an irritating note on the windowed wall ( we don’t know why he wrote it till the end!) Leo Prevant, a shipping executive sees the note and he doesn’t take it well. Walter who works as inspector finds out Paul’s wrongdoings and forces him to quit his job as the wealthy businessman, owner of the hotel Jonathan Alkaitis (Paul keeps asking his whereabouts which is also found suspicious by Walter! ) arrives at the place, flirting with new bartender. And a few months later Walter finds out their bartender who quits after her stepbrother’s leaving the place became the wife of Jonathan from the couple’s charity gala attendance photos. But Vincent didn’t marry with Jonathan. She just seized the opportunity to live a luxurious life without thinking money first time in her life as her pretending husband/ boyfriend making shushed talks and scheming about his business plans discreetly. Then BAM we got the reason of the secrecy: A Ponzi Scheme erupts in Big Apple, dragging countless fortunes with it! Jonathan gets arrested and ruins so many people’s lives. So when you keep reading and getting the clues to fill the blanks about the characters’ destinies, you may put most pieces at the right place. This is fascinating, memorable and intense reading helping you to connect with the flawed characters and the way of their dealing with guilt feelings with supernatural motifs. I get mesmerized with the beauty of writing and I didn’t want it to end and I did my best to read this one slower than my normal routine to absorb each word, sentences, dialogues, entire details. Maybe it’s too early to tell but not for me: This is gonna be one of my best 10 reads of the year and I already listed at my all-time favorite list. This is masterpiece. Stop procrastinating! Just read it! And send me thank you notes for recommendation.bloginstagramfacebooktwitter
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  • jessica
    January 1, 1970
    this story definitely falls under the whole its not what you say, but how you say it.honestly, i couldnt care less about the subject of this novel. a good 1/3 of the book is about the 2008 financial crisis and the collapse of a ponzi scheme. that is not something that interests me one bit. but how mandel portrays this topic, how she effectively structures the narrative, and how she intertwines the lives of the characters is really fascinating. i found myself enjoying this because i liked how the this story definitely falls under the whole ‘its not what you say, but how you say it.’honestly, i couldnt care less about the subject of this novel. a good 1/3 of the book is about the 2008 financial crisis and the collapse of a ponzi scheme. that is not something that interests me one bit. but how mandel portrays this topic, how she effectively structures the narrative, and how she intertwines the lives of the characters is really fascinating. i found myself enjoying this because i liked how the story came together and was written, not necessarily the story itself. if that makes sense.i dont think this is as good as ‘station eleven,’ as this didnt really affect me personally/emotionally, but its definitely a unique narrative in its own right and makes for a really interesting to read due to how the story unfolds. ↠ 3.5 stars
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  • emma
    January 1, 1970
    my hobbies include: saying i can't wait to read a book and then waiting to read it
  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    NOW AVAILABLE!!!i am going to put this book in a time capsule, to be opened in fifty years, with the following note: the world is almost entirely terrible right now, except for this book.and if there is anyone left alive on the planet fifty years from now to dig it up, they, too, will declare this book a masterpiece. because yoo-mons don't change, not really, and this book proves once again that emily st. john mandel has a deeper, broader understanding than most about what makes humanity tick, NOW AVAILABLE!!!i am going to put this book in a time capsule, to be opened in fifty years, with the following note: the world is almost entirely terrible right now, except for this book.and if there is anyone left alive on the planet fifty years from now to dig it up, they, too, will declare this book a masterpiece. because yoo-mons don't change, not really, and this book proves once again that emily st. john mandel has a deeper, broader understanding than most about what makes humanity tick, and has graced us with another panoramic polynarrative of ambition, guilt, human frailty and the whole sordid mess of us; good and bad and trying and failing. this complex, deeply absorbing story of overlapping lives, connections and consequences, and how everyone’s a little shitty sometimes is exactly what we need right now; something neutrally observed, yet still empathetic; rich and referential and perfect. i read this book back in november and i didn’t have the words then to convey how good it was and now here we are in march a week away from its publication date and the only thing different is that i’d probably remove the words “almost entirely” from my time capsule message. coronavirus may be keeping libraries and bookstores* closed right now—maybe the events of Station Eleven are heading our way (unless—fingers crossed—we're in the counterlife), but don't let social distancing prevent you from reading this book. many indie stores are set up for online ordering or curbside pickup and if you're an audio person, THIS IS YOUR TIME!it's every bit as good as i wanted it to be. * not mine, though! and if i get sick, it'll all be worth it to make sure you people have enough books to read in your quarantined safety. come to my blog!
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not usually attracted to books that feature financial elements, but in this case I made an exception. Simply because I love how this author writes and the way she puts together a story. I'm so glad I went with my intuition, which shows sometimes you just need to trust a favored author.Although this is about a Ponzi scheme, it is so much more. It is the story of Vincent, a female, named after Edna St. Vincent Milay , and she is a fasinating character. A sort of chameleon, trying to find her I'm not usually attracted to books that feature financial elements, but in this case I made an exception. Simply because I love how this author writes and the way she puts together a story. I'm so glad I went with my intuition, which shows sometimes you just need to trust a favored author.Although this is about a Ponzi scheme, it is so much more. It is the story of Vincent, a female, named after Edna St. Vincent Milay , and she is a fasinating character. A sort of chameleon, trying to find her way through life after the death of her mother. Jonathan is the initiator of the Ponzi scheme, something that will effect many lives, including Vincents.The writing is equisite, the story clips along at a steady pace and i found it quite addicting. It is at heart the story of the haves and have nots, unreal monetary expectations. Con men and those who allow themselves to be conned. The choices one makes, where one mistake can equivocally change ones fate. The connections one makes and those that just seem to happen. Alternate realities, where one sees different choices played out. Do you think it possible for one to actually see their consciences become real? Something to ponder.I thought this was a terrific and very different story.
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    Im too biased about Emily St. John Mandel to be completely objective. Im a huge fan!!!Every novel is exquisitely written, compelling, and utterly absorbing. Emily chooses her words carefully- consciously - vibrantly - never leaving me with the feeling that anything needs to be edited. I met this extraordinary author in 2010... after buying and reading her first book through Unbridled books....an independent book company that features new books by new hot-and-up-incoming- authors. Emilys first I’m too biased about Emily St. John Mandel to be completely objective. I’m a huge fan!!!Every novel is exquisitely written, compelling, and utterly absorbing. Emily chooses her words carefully- consciously - vibrantly - never leaving me with the feeling that anything needs to be edited. I met this extraordinary author in 2010... after buying and reading her first book through Unbridled books....an independent book company that features new books by new hot-and-up-incoming- authors. Emily’s first book was a beautiful elegiac story.... I was ‘Emily-Hooked’ immediately-( in ‘aw’ and ‘blown away’), after reading: “Last Night In Montreal”....( a story of love, mystery, and obsession)....Her second book, “The Singer’s Gun”, ( a crime thriller), was even more sophisticated and complicated....with unusual characters.Her third book, “The Lola Quartet”....( action filled with tension - yet also deeply introspective), was dangerously exciting. I had been telling friends - (unknown at the time), about this gifted Canadian author for years.But many readers didn’t know of her work until her outbreak dystopian hit, (through Knopf publishing)...”Station Eleven”.Her 4th book: “Station Eleven” brought Emily well deserved recognition. A Pulitzer Prize contender/nominee - put *Emily St. John Mandel*, on the map.She became an instant household name for readers worldwide. This fifth book, “The Glass Hotel”...( highly anticipated), is compulsively irresistible! The story grabs us from the first page....with fascinating characters ( and fascinating chosen character names).It’s disturbing to read about so much corruption and greed. ( especially when we are legitimately concerned about ‘real life’... the true stories of massive frauds). We follow a Ponzi scheme - calculated with swindling- self-serving- characters - and supernatural aspects. Terrific storytelling atmosphere...with a strong sense of moral quandaries to grapple with....Emily St. John is one of my all-time favorite female authors. She can do no wrong in my eyes... I’ll read and enjoy every book she writes. I pre-paid for the physical book 2 months before it was released... and started reading it the day I had it in my hands. I own and cherish each of her books. I admit, I’ve got that unconditionally love going on!Taut, and haunting...with compelling characters....there is something so formidably honest about the magnificent prose. Note: if you’ve never read any of Emily‘s books....Starting with “Station Eleven”, is fine.....but ( just my humble opinion)...,I’d actually begin with, “Last Night In Montreal”. It’s enjoyable watching Emily evolve - ( crafting - styling- - storytelling - depth - terrific nuance with each new novel). Timeless deceptions in disguise....this literary mystery novel will pull on your heartstrings!
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  • Jeffrey Keeten
    January 1, 1970
    Leon hadnt understood, and hed given Alkaitis his retirement savings anyway. He didnt insist on a detailed explanation. One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid. The strategy had seemed to adhere to a certain logic, even if the precise mechanics--puts, calls, options, holds, conversions--swam just outside of his grasp. Look, Alkaitis had said, at his warmest and most accommodating, I could break it all down for you, but I think you understand ”Leon hadn’t understood, and he’d given Alkaitis his retirement savings anyway. He didn’t insist on a detailed explanation. One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid. The strategy had seemed to adhere to a certain logic, even if the precise mechanics--puts, calls, options, holds, conversions--swam just outside of his grasp. ‘Look,’ Alkaitis had said, at his warmest and most accommodating, ‘I could break it all down for you, but I think you understand the gist of it, and at the end of the day the returns speak for themselves.’”It is the perfect time to be reading this book as I watch the stock market plummet over fears of what the coronavirus will do to the ebb and flow of money. I pulled my money out years ago to invest in real estate, so I’m really rather a disinterested observer as the panic begins to gain momentum. What makes this downturn interesting is, if there are any Madoffesque Ponzi schemes operating out there, they will be exposed. As long as the markets are good Ponzi schemes work like clockwork. When markets start to get shaky is when too many calls come in too quickly for a scheming ponzi criminal to cover. The party at that point is over. The 2008 crash is what exposed Jonathan Alkaitis’s indiscretions. Rarely do investors hang with you when they start to see the market begin to free fall. They don’t care how many great returns you’ve given them in the past. They want their money back, and they want it back now. Remember the run on the bank in It’s a Wonderful Life? Well, that is exactly what happened to Alkaitis in 2008. There was no money to give them because there were no fresh investors giving Alkaitis an infusion of new cash. The whole scheme spiralled down the toilet. The primary thing that drives a Ponzi scheme is greed. Frankly, I don’t care if some smooth talking, immoral Alkaitis type character takes rich, greedy people for all their money because they should know better. What really irritates me is when guys like Alkaitis take regular people for their small nest eggs and retirement funds. That’s when what he does goes from being a snake oil swindler to being a devastator of lives. Emily St. James Mandel does a great job of laying out exactly what a Ponzi scheme is, but if you have fears that this book is all about schemes and money, don’t worry. Mandel has always been wonderful at building the emotion and authenticity of her characters’ lives. So the way a Ponzi scheme works is that a slick talking operator with some trading experience convinces a few of his rich buddies to invest some money with him, guaranteeing them a certain rate of return. Sometimes those buddies are in on the scheme, and sometimes they are clueless, but they all feel absolutely brilliant when they start getting checks, reflecting astronomical returns. Some math would tell them that these rates of return are impossible, but that isn’t really a thought as long as the checks keep coming. Those initial investors then tell their friends and acquaintances about these fabulously large checks they have been “earning” and recruit more investors to the scheme. So Alkaitis is really just a salesman, a closer who convinces these people he is a brilliant investor, but what these investors don’t know is that he never invests their money. Their money is being used to pay the big returns to the initial investors and to support his lavish lifestyle. As long as the market is a bull market, attracting more investors is no problem, and everything works great. When the stock market tumbles, he doesn’t have the cash to pay out to the numerous, nervous investors wanting their money back. That’s when people with handcuffs make a visit.There is a mystery threaded through the plot as to what really happened to the woman who fell off the boat in the opening chapter of the book. She has an unusual name. She was named for the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (can’t help noticing how closely that name reflects the author’s name), and few people forget a beautiful woman named Vincent. She becomes the trophy “wife” of Alkaitis. She is not stupid, but she sees money as a mysterious agent that seems to materalize, like magic in her new life. ”Everything in the shop was gorgeous, but the yellow gloves shone with a special light. She tried them on and bought them without looking at the price tag, because in the age of money her credit card was a magical, weightless thing.”She was a bartender before she met Alkaitis and will be one again.This is an effortless read. I blew through it on a flight from Denver to Charlotte. Mandel’s writing style is smooth and elegant. She is one of my favorite young writers, and I certainly look forward to her next book. If you haven’t read her work before, I would suggest starting with her book Station Eleven, which could very well prove to be her grand opus. If you like post-apocalyptic novels, you will enjoy her unique and poignant view of a possible future. If you think money is boring, which it is, but regardless you should still understand it, especially if your beloved Uncle Ted leaves you a nice packet, this book will give you some perspective and, hopefully, help you keep from falling into the honey laced traps of conmen. The sage advice, if it is too good to be true then it is really too good to be true, should always be remembered. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • Blair
    January 1, 1970
    It must be incredibly difficult for a writer to follow a monster hit like Station Eleven. Everyone, it seems, is dying to read The Glass Hotel, and that includes me: I normally think it's a little obnoxious to review an advance copy 6+ months before the book's publication, but I simply could not wait to dive into this one. So I will get this out of the way first: The Glass Hotel is not post-apocalyptic, it's not dystopian, it's straight literary fiction (which is not to say that it doesn't have It must be incredibly difficult for a writer to follow a monster hit like Station Eleven. Everyone, it seems, is dying to read The Glass Hotel, and that includes me: I normally think it's a little obnoxious to review an advance copy 6+ months before the book's publication, but I simply could not wait to dive into this one. So I will get this out of the way first: The Glass Hotel is not post-apocalyptic, it's not dystopian, it's straight literary fiction (which is not to say that it doesn't have its little moments of strangeness). This novel may not pack the same plot-driven punch as its predecessor, but in the end I was glad of that. The simpler premise allows the beauty and brilliance of the author's writing to take centre stage.The Glass Hotel is set between the mid-1990s and the late 2010s, and it's about a Ponzi scheme. I have to admit I wasn't really clear on what a Ponzi scheme is, other than being a scam; basically, it describes a situation in which investors are paid fake profits using funds gathered from other investors. The progenitor of the scheme in this book is a man called Jonathan Alkaitis, but the story isn't really (or isn't only) about him. If there's a main character, it's his much younger partner, Vincent (who, despite the name, is a woman). The two of them meet in the bar of the Hotel Caiette – he's the owner, she's the bartender – and Vincent, having grown up 'on a road with two dead ends', is carried off into a new, strange existence as his trophy wife. She calls it 'the kingdom of money', and it is fated not to last.I have often seen The Glass Hotel described as a 'follow-up' to Station Eleven, which might have led some to presume it would be a sequel. There is a link: it features two Station Eleven characters – Miranda and her boss Leon Prevant – and though they don't play major roles, this is a clear indication that the two books are set in the same reality. Elsewhere, however, there is a clever suggestion that a future in which the Georgia flu ravages society might just be a figment of another character's imagination. This, in turn, ties in to the idea of 'the counterlife', a sort of parallel-universe theory Jonathan uses as a coping strategy in prison. All the while, ghosts flit back and forth in the margins.Something I loved about Station Eleven was Emily St. John Mandel's ability to bring her characters to life very economically; to make them feel like real people without the need for pages and pages of backstory. The same principle applies here. Each person in The Glass Hotel is so richly imagined, I could have read a whole book about any of them. One of the things it does most effectively is to shine a spotlight on some of those affected by Jonathan's scheme: you get a little window into how their lives will change, and these sketches are all the more effective for their brevity.I also loved the organic nature of the characters' interactions with each other. Their lives intersect in ways that reminded me of Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. It was disconcerting to go back to my original review of Station Eleven and find I compared that to A Visit from the Goon Squad as well! I honestly had no memory of doing so, but I guess the connection was lurking around my subconscious somewhere. I mention it because I like the synchronicity: this little coincidence/recurrence is exactly the sort of thing that would happen to a character in an Emily St. John Mandel book.The Glass Hotel reeled me in quietly. There are no big shocks or dramatic twists here, just thoughtful portraits of characters who feel very much like real people. Also subtly brilliant illumination of the ways in which we all cross paths with others, how we remember people (or create myths around them, or forget them), how it's possible to influence someone's journey with the lightest touch. Everyday magic. I've been meaning to read the author's earlier work for years, and after this, maybe I'll finally get round to it; I want to spend more time in the worlds she creates.I received an advance review copy of The Glass Hotel from the publisher through Edelweiss.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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  • Nataliya
    January 1, 1970
    There are so many ways to haunt a person, or a life. There is something undeniably magical about this story. It is strange, a bit surreal and dreamlike and sometimes even slightly disorienting. And it takes a while for you to resurface from its emotional weight that somehow creeps up upon you when you really dont expect it. It is possible to leave so much out of any given story. It is a story about people and the connections that form between them, the strange ways their lives touch, “There are so many ways to haunt a person, or a life.” There is something undeniably magical about this story. It is strange, a bit surreal and dreamlike and sometimes even slightly disorienting. And it takes a while for you to resurface from its emotional weight that somehow creeps up upon you when you really don’t expect it. “It is possible to leave so much out of any given story.” It is a story about people and the connections that form between them, the strange ways their lives touch, intersect and overlap briefly, causing unexpected ripples on otherwise smooth surfaces, only to diverge again and then maybe converge in a new pattern, for better or worse. It is about the strange directions that lives can take - or not take, the lives lived and unlived and wished for, the alternate realities which can haunt you relentlessly. It is a story of greed and guilt and dreams and failures and regrets. This book does not have a conventional plot. It’s like it’s made of vignettes that eventually come together and form a larger story, come to a greater whole. It made me think of those five-minute videos that Vincent obsessively takes - short but vivid glimpses into life, open-ended and with little resolution - like shards of the universes that we inhabit. “No, money is a country and he had the keys to the kingdom.” Nobody in this book is perfect. Everyone is messy and pathetic and frequently awful - and so very human. Emily St John Mandel clearly *gets* people, sees them in their complexity and is able to bring them to life so skillfully, with so much nuance and understanding that it’s a pleasure to read. “I’m paying a price for this life, she told herself, but the price is reasonable.” Despite what the book description made me think, you really don’t need to know anything about how Ponzi schemes work. All that’s important here is that it is a giant fraud that can make people feel good for a while with the windfall of unearned cash, and then it eventually collapses, destroying lives by stripping people of everything they thought they had. The coveted “country of money“ can quickly become the “shadowland” of those fallen through the cracks. “It wasn’t the stuff that kept her in this strange new life, in the kingdom of money; it wasn’t the clothing and objects and handbags and shoes. It wasn’t the beautiful home, the travel; it wasn’t Jonathan’s company, although she did genuinely like him; it wasn’t even inertia. What kept her in the kingdom was the previously unimaginable condition of not having to think about money, because that’s what money gives you: the freedom to stop thinking about money. If you’ve never been without, then you won’t understand the profundity of this, how absolutely this changes your life.” Beautiful book. Loved it. 4.5 stars.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    You should eat broken glass.The sentence above, a remote island hotel, a Ponzi scheme, a container ship, a lost young woman, and a ghostly presence provide the framework for this masterful novel about greed, guilt, ambition, and love. The writing is languid and dreamy yet still page-turning as the stories of the interconnected characters fold back upon themselves. This is a mesmerizing, unearthly novel with characters throwing stones and crossing lines. Dont miss it. “You should eat broken glass.”The sentence above, a remote island hotel, a Ponzi scheme, a container ship, a lost young woman, and a ghostly presence provide the framework for this masterful novel about greed, guilt, ambition, and love. The writing is languid and dreamy yet still page-turning as the stories of the interconnected characters fold back upon themselves. This is a mesmerizing, unearthly novel with characters throwing stones and crossing lines. Don’t miss it.
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  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    tw: mentions of suicide; drug abuse/overdose; death of a parent; death of a siblingThis is a book thats difficult to the review. I was worried about not enjoying this book, as the synopsis doesnt at all interest me but I loved Station Eleven, another book by this author. I ended up reading this book in two days. This is a character study and Mandel makes you care about their stories. Similar to Station Eleven, its a hard book to describe and recommend but definitely give it a chance if you are tw: mentions of suicide; drug abuse/overdose; death of a parent; death of a siblingThis is a book that’s difficult to the review. I was worried about not enjoying this book, as the synopsis doesn’t at all interest me but I loved Station Eleven, another book by this author. I ended up reading this book in two days. This is a character study and Mandel makes you care about their stories. Similar to Station Eleven, it’s a hard book to describe and recommend but definitely give it a chance if you are even slightly intrigued.
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    In Emily St John Mandel's previous much loved novel Station Eleven she wrote about a post-apocalyptic world which had an almost dream-like feel. This novel is centred around a modern day financial calamity but has that same ethereal, other worldly quality. Hotel Caiette, the glass hotel, itself feels disconnected from time and place "an improbable palace lit up against the darkness of the forest" with it's wall of glass looking over the wilderness. Built on a small island off the north coast of In Emily St John Mandel's previous much loved novel ‘Station Eleven’ she wrote about a post-apocalyptic world which had an almost dream-like feel. This novel is centred around a modern day financial calamity but has that same ethereal, other worldly quality. Hotel Caiette, the glass hotel, itself feels disconnected from time and place "an improbable palace lit up against the darkness of the forest" with it's wall of glass looking over the wilderness. Built on a small island off the north coast of Vancouver Island, it can only be reached by boat and allows guests to feel that they are in the middle of wilderness without having to actually be in it, instead cocooned in the luxury of a modern hotel. The glass hotel is not so much the focus of the book as the centrepoint where the characters paths cross and chance meetings and decisions are made that will affect all their futures. The main character, Vincent Smith is the night bartender at the hotel. She grew up in Caiette but left at the age of thirteen when her mother disappeared while kayaking. While working one night she will meet the owner of the hotel, Jonathan Alkaitis, a wealthy New York financier and leave to start a new life with him. Vincent's half brother Paul also working at the hotel as a night porter has after dropping out of business school but is a thwarted musician. Jealous of Vincent for her relationship with their father who left Paul's mother for Vincent's, Paul is already bored with the job and ready for an opportunity coming his way. In the early hours of the morning Leon Prevant, a shipping executive and insomniac, sipping his whisky, is the only guest in the bar when someone camouflaged in black etches an extraordinary phrase on the glass window shocking all who see it. Leon will also meet Jonathan Alkaitis later that day and make a decision that will later change his life forever.Those at the hotel that night will move on to other lives. Ones that that will involve greed, betrayal, theft and fraud and feel no less unreal than living in the glass hotel. Vincent finds herself living in the rarefied world of the very wealthy where spending thousands shopping soon becomes boring and will later find herself living at sea in another existence that seems to exist outside of the world. The novel is strangely beautiful given it is about financial fraud and is infused with Mandel's lyrical, atmospheric writing. The characters are subtly and fully depicted. Following the corruption there will be suicides but also survival and re-invention for some, but always with the danger of slipping below the surface into madness or into that shadowland of mere existence in contemporary America. A very inventive and almost hypnotic novel to read.With many thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia and Netgalley for a digital ARC to read
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  • Andrew Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Anyone who has read Station Eleven or in fact any of the authors previous novels will know that Mandel writes thoughtful and addictive stories. Her prose doesnt shout a story at you, its far more subtle than that. Instead youre more likely to be taken through a gentle maze of events that eventually knit together to deliver a gut punch. This book starts with what appears to be a scene of Vincents final moments after falling off a ship. One of those thoughts is a wish to see her brother. Quickly Anyone who has read Station Eleven or in fact any of the author’s previous novels will know that Mandel writes thoughtful and addictive stories. Her prose doesn’t shout a story at you, it’s far more subtle than that. Instead you’re more likely to be taken through a gentle maze of events that eventually knit together to deliver a gut punch. This book starts with what appears to be a scene of Vincent’s final moments after falling off a ship. One of those thoughts is a wish to see her brother. Quickly the time frame changes and we’re introduced to to Paul, a dropout from the University of Toronto where he was studying finance. Paul’s real interest is music but for reasons that will become apparent later he ended up studying a subject he really had no interest in. Paul, we learn, has a half-sister called Vincent. The story floats about in both time and place. The time element runs from the early 1990’s to close to the present day and the places are principally British Columbia and Manhattan. When we next come across Vincent and Paul they are both working at a luxury hotel situated at the most northerly tip of Vancouver Island. One night a lone guest spots a disturbing message scrawled on the large glass window of the lounge. Later that same night Vincent, who runs the bar, meets the rich owner of the hotel and a strange deal is struck between the two. We’ll make sense of these two events, but not yet, not for some time. There are essentially two threads at play: the story of Vincent and of Paul, of their early life and of how their lives play out and then, as the cast expands, the impact of a Ponzi Scheme on its investors as it all goes belly up and their money is lost. Anyone familiar with the notorious Bernie Madoff investment scandal will have a sense of just how totally investors in this type of full-on con can be financially ruined. And interestingly a couple of characters we meet along the way featured in the aforementioned Station Eleven; things turn out differently for Miranda Carroll and Leon Prevant in this book. So what do we have here, a Sliding Doors style set-up in which a very different life for this pair plays out? It’s a quirky element in this intriguing piece. I love the way the story is put together. After each player is introduced we lose sight of them for a while, only to catch up with them later. Each is deftly drawn and sympathetically brought to life and I found myself caring for all of them, even the bad guy at the centre of the fraud. The time shifts are also brilliantly effective and allow the story to play out in a surprising but highly effective way. There are ghosts here too and that’s not something I’m usually accepting of in any tale, but strangely they work here – they provide a linkage and ultimately a wholeness to the story that might not otherwise be there. This book is due to be published in March 2020, some six months from now and I’m sure it will find many, many admirers. I absolutely loved it. I finished reading it a couple of days ago but it’s taken me a little while to clear my mind and to capture my thoughts on it – in truth, it’s been deeply embedded in my head from the first day I started it. My sincere thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing a hcopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    This sounds like... absolutely everything. Youtube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Twitch
  • Ceecee
    January 1, 1970
    At first, I found the storyline all over the place and I felt a bit baffled because I couldnt see where it was heading. It jumped from timeline to timeline and character to character in a seemingly random and disconnected fashion and I couldnt join the dots! Then it all began to slot into place and I saw the reasoning and then I was able to settle into enjoying the book. The 5 star luxury Glass Hotel was in Caiette, a small and remote part of Vancouver Island. It was owned by super wealthy At first, I found the storyline all over the place and I felt a bit baffled because I couldn’t see where it was heading. It jumped from timeline to timeline and character to character in a seemingly random and disconnected fashion and I couldn’t join the dots! Then it all began to slot into place and I saw the reasoning and then I was able to settle into enjoying the book. The 5 star luxury Glass Hotel was in Caiette, a small and remote part of Vancouver Island. It was owned by super wealthy Jonathan Alkaitis and part of the story was about his Ponzi scheme but also was about his ‘wife’ Vincent who disappeared from the deck of the ship Neptune Cumberland. The story started with this and ended with it so the beginning is literally the end and I liked this circular approach. The storylines in the novel jump around from the 1990’s to 2029 as we follow the disastrous fall of the house of Alkaitis. I thought the financial sections about the scheme were really interesting and I thought the air of panic was really well captured although there was some relief from Jonathan that the deception was over. I found his thoughts on the fraud fascinating as he suggested that his investors must have known as no one got returns as they did unless it was too good to be true. Offloading blame? Some truth or delusion? Were they all deluded? I loved the ‘ghostly’ element to the book and thought that was very clever as characters who were dead appeared to the living or was it their guilty conscience? The book has a number of allegorical elements and the allegory I liked the best was of the swan who should have flown south but stayed in the water too long and froze which was clearly what Jonathan did. He should have bailed long before he was unmasked and so he too froze in the water. I liked Jonathan’s Counterlife and Non Counterlife which he used to escape the day to day reality of being caught and it looked at an alternate ‘reality’. I also very much liked the character of pragmatic Vincent, the other characters were not so likeable but they were well depicted. However, I never entirely got to grips with the jumping around in time and the tangential elements of the story which I found irritating. Overall, though, a very intriguing book which was very well written and one I will remember. Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan McMillan for the ARC.
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  • Ron Charles
    January 1, 1970
    Bad timing: Emily St. John Mandel is releasing a novel in the middle of a pandemic that has shuttered libraries and bookstores across the country.At least Mandel knows what shes getting into. Her previous novel, Station Eleven, described the world decimated by a deadly virus. Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and a finalist for a National Book Award, Station Eleven was terrifically successful when it appeared in 2014, and this month its showing up on everybodys grim coronavirus reading lists. Bad timing: Emily St. John Mandel is releasing a novel in the middle of a pandemic that has shuttered libraries and bookstores across the country.At least Mandel knows what she’s getting into. Her previous novel, “Station Eleven,” described the world decimated by a deadly virus. Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and a finalist for a National Book Award, “Station Eleven” was terrifically successful when it appeared in 2014, and this month it’s showing up on everybody’s grim coronavirus reading lists.To watch the Totally Hip Video Book Review of this novel, click here.But don’t let that dystopian classic overshadow her new novel, “The Glass Hotel.” In this story, Mandel focuses on a different kind of apocalypse: Her inspiration is Bernie Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme. The real pathogen this time around is deceit. Everyone in these pages is eager to wash their hands of culpability, but the wreckage keeps spreading, infecting an ever-widening group of friends and colleagues.“The Glass Hotel” may be the perfect novel for your survival bunker. It remains freshly mysterious despite its self-spoiling plot. Mandel is always casually revealing future turns of success or demise in ways that only pique our curiosity. Indeed, the fate of the story’s heroine appears in. . . .To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post:https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    This is a new author for me, finding a new author is very exciting and I couldnt wait to start this book!!The Glass Hotel is on Vancouver Island, only accessible by boat. A luxury 5 star hotel owned by Jonathon Alkatis who works in finance.When Jonathon passes a card with his tip to Vincent the bartender its a new beginning for as his trophy wife, leading to money and entitlement!!Thirteen years later Vincent disappears off the deck of the Neptune - Avramidis ship. Was it an accident or This is a new author for me, finding a new author is very exciting and I couldn’t wait to start this book!!The Glass Hotel is on Vancouver Island, only accessible by boat. A luxury 5 star hotel owned by Jonathon Alkatis who works in finance.When Jonathon passes a card with his tip to Vincent the bartender it’s a new beginning for as his trophy wife, leading to money and entitlement!!Thirteen years later Vincent disappears off the deck of the Neptune - Avramidis ship. Was it an accident or deliberate!!This book in set in alternative timelines starting from 1999.Beautifully written and very addictive. I was fascinated with the Ponzi scheme and never realised how interesting they are.Will definitely read Station Eleven!!Thank you for my copy in exchange for a review.
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  • Neil
    January 1, 1970
    "There are so many ways to haunt a person, or a life"Emily St John Mandel seems to have two particular talents (probably a lot more, but these two stand out to me). She has a remarkable way to tell a story by jumping around in time and yet having it all make sense. She seems to be able to put the pieces together so that the reveals from the past or future come at exactly the right point to avoid the reader being either frustrated or confused. It is a great skill, I think, to be able to write "There are so many ways to haunt a person, or a life…"Emily St John Mandel seems to have two particular talents (probably a lot more, but these two stand out to me). She has a remarkable way to tell a story by jumping around in time and yet having it all make sense. She seems to be able to put the pieces together so that the reveals from the past or future come at exactly the right point to avoid the reader being either frustrated or confused. It is a great skill, I think, to be able to write passages that the reader has known about for a while and yet are still exciting to read because the reader has been looking forward to getting the detail. Secondly, she doesn’t need many words to bring a character to life and she seems to get under the skin of her characters very quickly. Crucially, she takes her reader with her.I have read all four previous novels by this author, but I think this is probably my favourite of the five. There is something about the writing in this book that makes it more subtle, more mature, more insightful.Plus, in this novel, there is the added excitement of discovering two characters from the author’s best known work (Station Eleven) making a re-appearance. It suggests that (like David Mitchell), Mandel is setting books in a self-contained universe. Except! Except for the fact that here one character imagines a world where Georgian flu was not contained but ran rampant round the world destroying civilisation. That, of course, is the pandemic that drive the plot in Station Eleven. So, we have the plot of one book being imagined as a possible "alternate reality" in this book and with characters bleeding over between the books.But this idea of characters appearing in worlds where they might not be supposed to be is actually a key idea throughout this new novel. We begin at the end as Vincent (unusual name for a girl) falls off a ship to her death. Then we skip back a couple of decades to meet Paul, an aspiring musician with a drug problem. After some bad tablets, he has an even more serious, if different, drug problem. Then the core of the novel is the story of the collapse of a Ponzi scheme in 2008 (we know the man at the centre of this as Jonathan Alkaitis, but the crime is modelled on Bernard L. Madoff's Ponzi scheme which collapsed at exactly this time).We follow Vincent, Paul and Jonathan, along with a host of other characters, as their lives connect and influence each others, or as their actions impact on others. I don’t want to give the plot away - a huge part of the fun in reading this book is seeing how all the pieces gradually pull together and I would not want to spoil that. But one thing many of the characters do often is imagine "alternate realities", the way life might have been (as with the Georgian flu epidemic mentioned above) and, at times, "see" people who should not be where they are seen. Are these characters ghosts, are they just products of guilty consciences, are they visitors from an "alternate reality"? The novel never strays into science fiction or fantasy, but it also never seeks to particularly resolve that question: this, it seems, is an exercise for the reader. One way or another, our protagonists are haunted by lives they might have lived or by lives they lost somewhere along the way.At the end of the novel, most of the pieces are in place. I find myself pleased rather than frustrated at any loose ends: I want to spend more time with these characters thinking about what happened to them. As with this author’s other books, the pieces don’t come at you in the order you expect. But, also as in this author’s other books, the pieces are clearly organised to come in a very clever and specific order and to be the right size and shape to fill exactly the hole you as a reader were waiting to be filled at that point. I have finished every one of Emily St John Mandel’s book full of admiration for the way she tells a story. It’s a wonderful approach to storytelling and here her writing seems to have moved up a gear, too, making this a thoroughly enjoyable book to read.My thanks to Pan Macmillan, via NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for this honest review.
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  • Nenia ❤️️ I hate everything you love ❤️️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestSo I just watched this amazing film that came out this year that nobody seems to have heard of, and it's called The Laundromat . Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas are in it. The movie, through a series of seemingly disconnected vignettes, tells the story of shell corporations, fraud, and corruption, on a global scale.While reading THE GLASS HOTEL, in all of its haunting glory, I thought of The Laundromat because at its heart, it is also a Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestSo I just watched this amazing film that came out this year that nobody seems to have heard of, and it's called The Laundromat . Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas are in it. The movie, through a series of seemingly disconnected vignettes, tells the story of shell corporations, fraud, and corruption, on a global scale.While reading THE GLASS HOTEL, in all of its haunting glory, I thought of The Laundromat because at its heart, it is also a story of corruption. The main characters of this book are a brother and sister, the trophy girlfriend of a rich man, and the ringleader of a multi-billlion dollar Ponzi scheme. Their roles sometimes overlap, and the story is told in many different timelines which all converge, showing how they relate to each other-- and why.If you're reading this expecting a lot to happen, it's not particularly action-packed. THE GLASS HOTEL is more of a character-driven story, showing people with all of their toxic idiosyncracies. This works for me when done well, but I know it's not everyone's cup of tea to sit around and watch people exist. I liked it-- particularly because it has a lot of cutting remarks on what it means to be rich, poor, desperate, callous, self-serving, selfish, and cruel. All written in beautiful language, too. Someone should hire this author to deliver the news with her eloquent punditry; I like my devastation to be pretty.As if all that weren't enough, I think there's a bit of a magic-realism element in here towards the end, too, which makes the story extra strange. The author's other book, STATION ELEVEN, was also strange. If you like strange, haunting books, you'll love THE GLASS HOTEL. It's not a particularly happy book, but it's definitely interesting; and I'll take interesting over happy if the payoff is good.P.S. Go watch The Laundromat. You'll thank me.Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!4 stars
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  • Jasmine Guillory
    January 1, 1970
    Got in the bathtub at 10pm and opened to the first page of this book; was completely unable to make myself get out of the bathtub until 1:30 am when I turned the last page. Absolutely incredible; I read it a few days ago and have been thinking about it ever since; am furious its not out yet because I want to talk about it with everyone. I adored Station Eleven and was worried I wouldnt love this one as much and if youre also worried about that do not worry! Its very very different than Station Got in the bathtub at 10pm and opened to the first page of this book; was completely unable to make myself get out of the bathtub until 1:30 am when I turned the last page. Absolutely incredible; I read it a few days ago and have been thinking about it ever since; am furious it’s not out yet because I want to talk about it with everyone. I adored Station Eleven and was worried I wouldn’t love this one as much and if you’re also worried about that do not worry! It’s very very different than Station Eleven (except for, sort of, the structure) but equally fascinating and absorbing and mind expanding. Just...wow, this book.
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  • Mandy White
    January 1, 1970
    What can I say about the Glass Hotel? This book was very different from the books that I usually read and was my first by this author. I had to take a break halfway through reading it as I was getting very confused about what was happening. After speaking with a few people about this I found that I was not alone. I was advised to keep going as the pieces would fall into place soon... and they were right. I picked it up again last night and could not put it down. So thank you friends for guiding What can I say about the Glass Hotel? This book was very different from the books that I usually read and was my first by this author. I had to take a break halfway through reading it as I was getting very confused about what was happening. After speaking with a few people about this I found that I was not alone. I was advised to keep going as the pieces would fall into place soon... and they were right. I picked it up again last night and could not put it down. So thank you friends for guiding me through this one.I am. It going to say to much about this story in this one as you really need to read it to appreciate it. The blurb really doesn’t do it justice at all. It is about so much more than a ponzi scheme. It is about ghosts, wealth, power, greed, paths not taken and the hotel that brought the main players all together one night in Vancouver. It is a great book, but it does require some patience and time to really get your head around what is going on. There are a lot of characters and a lot of timelines happening and you need to be paying attention.Thanks to Macmillian Australia for my copy of this book to read. A different read for me and not one that I am likely to forget anytime soon.
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  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsI am a sucker for a character-driven novels, which is not everyone's thing. But I loved this. You get to feel like you are taking a peek into the lives of real people. These are definitely fully developed characters. But if you are looking for a fast paged novel, or a page turner, or something with a big climax scene, then this is not the book for you. But if you love plots that are more of a character study, I recommend picking this up! My only real fault I have with this book is how 4.5 starsI am a sucker for a character-driven novels, which is not everyone's thing. But I loved this. You get to feel like you are taking a peek into the lives of real people. These are definitely fully developed characters. But if you are looking for a fast paged novel, or a page turner, or something with a big climax scene, then this is not the book for you. But if you love plots that are more of a character study, I recommend picking this up! My only real fault I have with this book is how it neatly wraps everything up in a way that feels like a completely different tone/pace than the rest of the book. It's not terrible or anything, I just wish it was left off with a bit of mystery instead of that final chapter/wrap up montage. But I'll overlook that because I enjoyed the rest of the book so much.
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  • Sophie
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the publishers for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!Emily St. John Mandel is a talented and lyrical writer, and this was a haunting and character driven story. One of the characters at one point describes how life feels like a fever dream, and reading this book gave me that feeling, a feeling of disorientation and being unsettled, especially with the slight hint of magical realism. I did enjoy how the characters' lives intertwined, how the hotel itself didn't Thank you to the publishers for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review!Emily St. John Mandel is a talented and lyrical writer, and this was a haunting and character driven story. One of the characters at one point describes how life feels like a fever dream, and reading this book gave me that feeling, a feeling of disorientation and being unsettled, especially with the slight hint of magical realism. I did enjoy how the characters' lives intertwined, how the hotel itself didn't play a major part but was there enough to link people, and the way the timeline was set up. Ultimately, even though it is a character driven story, that same feverish and disorienting feeling made me feel like I didn't know the characters that well, that I was confused what the journey was. It's like I understood enough to get some of the commentary (primarily rich vs poor, the journey to make money, and can the end justify the means) and in fact I did appreciate some of it. One scene that for some reason is one of the ones that sticks with me the most is a conversation where a character who is dating an extremely wealthy man is telling one of the main characters how she traveled all over and all of these countries felt the same because ultimately she realized that being rich was like its own country, and so all of these places were just part of that same wealthy world. But I also felt like much of the commentary was on questions I did not understand and could not quite grasp. If you have read St. John Mandel's books before then you know that she likes her open ended and haunting questions, but in the past I felt like I understood them. I appreciated the nods to Station Eleven, but this book just didn't hit me on the same emotional level as that one did. This just doesn't feel like a book that will stick with me in any capacity. Maybe people who understand more about the business world would appreciate this one.
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  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    ★★★✰✰ 3 stars But they were citizens of a shadow country that in his previous life hed only dimly perceived, a country located at the edge of an abyss. Emily St. John Mandels prose in The Glass Hotel is certainly striking. She deftly weaves realism with a dreamlike atmosphere, while also adding an elegiac touch to otherwise mundane scenes and observations. Occasionally her style seems intentionally opaque, such as when she keeps her characters motivations slightly out of our reach. Nevertheless, ★★★✰✰ 3 stars “But they were citizens of a shadow country that in his previous life he’d only dimly perceived, a country located at the edge of an abyss. ”Emily St. John Mandel’s prose in The Glass Hotel is certainly striking. She deftly weaves realism with a dreamlike atmosphere, while also adding an elegiac touch to otherwise mundane scenes and observations. Occasionally her style seems intentionally opaque, such as when she keeps her characters’ motivations slightly out of our reach. Nevertheless, her prose retains a compelling and extremely readable quality.“He feels it’s important to keep the two separate, memory vs. counterlife, but he’s been finding the separation increasingly difficult. It’s a permeable border.”The Glass Hotel reads like a series of short stories or vignettes that are linked together by certain familiar names and faces as well as some memorable incidents (the “Why don’t you swallow broken glass” graffiti) and life-changing events (a Ponzi scheme).Most chapters introduce us to a new character: we begin with Paul, Vincent’s troubled half-brother, who has spent most of his life as an addict. We then move to Walter the night manager at the Hotel Caiette where Paul and Vincent also work, respectively as the night houseman and bartender. The following chapters focus in particular on the hotel’s owner, Jonathan Alkaitis, his coworkers, employees, and somewhat peripherally on his victims. Vincent is one of the story’s central characters, as she becomes involved with Alkaitisa.To say more about these characters or their stories would be giving too much away. Most of them are unhappy, or feel somewhat unfilled, and most of them dream of entering or remaining in ‘the kingdom of money’. Throughout these entwining narratives Mandel examines themes of guilt and culpability. Characters are often forced to reconcile themselves with the consequences of their own actions. There are those who are willing to use, betray, or manipulate others for their own personal gain, and there also those who feel like they themselves are victims. Through her perceptive prose Mandel creates some rather nuanced portrayals: her characters’ may be selfish, self-seeking, unwilling to change or to admit fault but they also have moments of self-awareness and empathy.Their conversations and interactions always rang true to life, and there are no enlightening or cathartic moments or encounters. While there are quite a few incredibly wealthy characters, the novel does not glamorise them or their lifestyles. If anything Mandel depicts just how fallible and human people ultimately are, regardless of their finances or social status.There were certain chapters that felt gimmicky: such as the ‘chorus’ one, narrated by ‘we’, Alkaitis’ employees. Their names and personalities sort of blurred together. Contrast those ‘chorus’ chapters with the novel’s first chapter (which followed Paul) or the ones in which Alkaitis’ is imprisoned...and well, they just seemed lacking. Paul’s chapter was narrated with such clarity and feeling that makes chapters like the ‘chorus’ one seem contrived and unsatisfying.The thing that kept me from really enjoying this novel, other than its not always satisfying crosscutting narratives, was Vincent. Whereas every other single character is flawed she is presented as inherently different from others. Her art struck me as childish (taking 5 minute videos of the landscape?...) and most of what she says or does seemed to be an attempt at emphasising at her mysterious ‘uniqueness’...and I just really dislike this type of character. She wasn’t fascinating or particularly believable, and it seemed a pity that she is the character who appears almost throughout the course of this novel. It seemed she was good at everything she set out to do (bartending, being Alkaitis’ wife, working as a cook, being an artist). Not only did I find her to be apathetic but she was curiously enough the most unsympathetic of the lot.Personally, I would have preferred this novel if it had maintained its focus on the Hotel Caiette, rather than delving into the consequences of a Ponzi scheme. Given the novel’s summary and title I also thought that the “Why don’t you swallow broken glass” message would play a bigger role in the various narratives. Paul and Vincent relationship also felt like a missed opportunity...Vincent in particular would have benefited from having some more ‘background’ (for example her relationship with her aunt or her mother). But she seemed so untethered from others, her only defining quality was her lacklustre art. While The Glass Hotel is certainly well-written and presents its readers with a series of interesting and intersecting narratives, which often feature characters in moral or financial crisis, part of me wished that Mandel had presented us with a more in-depth examination of her characters and their lives. Vincent in particular was an extremely dissatisfying character who seemed to possess only the shadow of a personality. She was too vacant.The imagery and themes within this novel struck me as characteristic of Mandel: boats, containers, white-collar crimes, discussions on art...I’m sure that fans of Mandel will be able to appreciate The Glass Hotel more than I was.Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
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  • Jessica Jeffers
    January 1, 1970
    "I was a thief too," I tell him, "we both got corrupted." Station Eleven is one of my all-time favorite books and I was unbelievably excited when I found out that, more than five years later, Emily St. John Mandel was finally releasing a new novel. I was even more excited when I discovered I could download an advance copy of this book on off Edelweiss. It's incredibly difficult to summarize the plot of this one without getting too into spoilers, but one very important thing you should know "I was a thief too," I tell him, "we both got corrupted." Station Eleven is one of my all-time favorite books and I was unbelievably excited when I found out that, more than five years later, Emily St. John Mandel was finally releasing a new novel. I was even more excited when I discovered I could download an advance copy of this book on off Edelweiss. It's incredibly difficult to summarize the plot of this one without getting too into spoilers, but one very important thing you should know is that this is a very different story from Station Eleven. Don't come to this expecting another piece of post-apocalyptic fiction or even anything in the sci-fi genre (except for some light narrative touches that barely qualify: (view spoiler)[characters seeing visions of dead people who may be ghosts or just manifestations of a guilty conscience (hide spoiler)]). This is about a woman named Vincent who, in the opening pages of the book, is falling off the side of a container ship off the cost of Western Africa in 2018. We then flash back to the 90s and begin learning about the twisty road that led her to that container ship. We begin with the troubles of her half-brother Paul, who struggled with heroin addiction and failed out of college. A few years later, in her twenties, Vincent is working as a bartender at a hotel on an island in British Columbia when she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a wealthy finance guy and owner of the hotel. The same night, Paul writes a cryptic message on the window of the hotel lobby, which is seen by Leon Prevant, a shipping company executive who is a guest in the hotel. The Glass Hotel weaves together the stories of these myriad characters in a style that is very similar to Station Eleven. Over the course of twenty years, the characters' lives intersect in surprising and sometimes disastrous ways. The journey takes us to the world of Manhattan high-finance, a medium-security prison, the sixties bohemian art world, and eventually to the container ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, we peek inside the minds of hotel employees and reluctant white-collar criminals, aging hippies, and retirees who have lost their entire life savings to a Ponzi scheme. The writing here is little bit rough at times. Some of the sentences were unnecessarily long, to the point where I was losing the thread of what they were describing, and there was some awkward phrasing, but I am willing to give Mandel the benefit of the doubt because it is 9 months until publication and things may get smoothed out as the manuscript goes through further revisions. In the grand scheme of things, my complaints are minor and may not factor in to the final version of the book. Mandel excels at weaving together the many storylines and points of view, though it takes a significant amount of time before the plot begins to feel cohesive and there are a couple of things that get dropped: (view spoiler)[The opening chapter features asides in which Paul is talking to a counselor, suggesting that the whole thing is from his point of view, but we don't ever really see how he ended up in the counselor's office in Utah, of all places (hide spoiler)]. Don't give up on this book too quickly, though; trust that Mandel is ultimately going to reward your patience. I am excited to revisit the final version of this book.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    Vincenta young woman named for American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millayis working as a bartender in a hotel on a remote island in British Columbia, when one day a message is scrawled across the hotel window that reads: Why dont you swallow broken glass. This sets off the unexpected chain of events that are chronicled by Emily St. John Mandel in her highly anticipated novel The Glass Hotel, which follows Vincent from rural Canada to Wall Street as she becomes involved with a Vincent—a young woman named for American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay—is working as a bartender in a hotel on a remote island in British Columbia, when one day a message is scrawled across the hotel window that reads: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” This sets off the unexpected chain of events that are chronicled by Emily St. John Mandel in her highly anticipated novel The Glass Hotel, which follows Vincent from rural Canada to Wall Street as she becomes involved with a high-level financial executive, whose successful business is revealed to be fronting a Ponzi scheme. This is the first novel that Mandel has published since the release of the wildly successful Station Eleven in 2014.You can read my full review HERE and a piece I wrote about Ponzi schemes HERE.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    I was very keen to read another book by this author after Station Eleven. This was nothing like that book, in plot or genre, but it was equally gripping, fascinating and intriguing. I enjoyed the way the different strands of time and character were interlinked. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
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  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    This novel moves from an obscure hotel on the north coast of Vancouver Island to New York to a container ship off the coast of Mauritius, and is about siblings, the Country of Money, ponzi schemes, ghosts and counterlives for all the regrets in a life. Most readers know this author from Station Eleven and I would say the only similarity is the way the story shifts its focus on a slowly evolving group of characters as the story moves through time. This is only an apocalypse novel if your money This novel moves from an obscure hotel on the north coast of Vancouver Island to New York to a container ship off the coast of Mauritius, and is about siblings, the Country of Money, ponzi schemes, ghosts and counterlives for all the regrets in a life. Most readers know this author from Station Eleven and I would say the only similarity is the way the story shifts its focus on a slowly evolving group of characters as the story moves through time. This is only an apocalypse novel if your money crashed in 2008. Love the PNW setting of some of it too.This came out March 24, 2020 and I had a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss.
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