The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

It is possible to leave so much out of any given story.

I devoured Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel, The Glass Hotel. I barely took any notes at all, because I just wanted to keep on reading. There is a unique pleasure in reading Mandel’s words. It feels like some sort of magic. Having read and loved one of her earlier novels, The Singer’s Gun, earlier this year, and with Station Eleven being one of my favorite books of all time, I can say she has risen to a firm spot in my Favorite Authors list.

60704756965__02801b81-4b7c-458c-bf6d-82f40e7a7732What I love about Mandel is that she excels at making me care about multiple characters through multiple timelines. Even relatively minor characters are drawn with care and filled in so they show off many shades. Events sometimes double back on themselves so that in the end there is a completely wrapped package, all the ribbons and paper of the story slowly coming together.

This novel is about a fictional Ponzi scheme and the various ways characters are connected to and affected by it. Which sounds kind of boring when I write it that way. So let me try again: it’s about a dysfunctional brother and sister relationship; a young woman who loses her mother at a young age and shapeshifts her way through life ever after; a beautiful but remote hotel off the coast of British Columbia; a charismatic business man who engineers a lucrative Ponzi scheme, all the while knowing it’s only a matter of time before it unravels. It’s also about people on the margins, people who are not tethered to a city or a house or a family. It’s an exploration of imagined worlds that seems real and real worlds that seem imaginary. It’s about loss, love, ghosts, and, of all things, shipping.

I loved it, and cried at the end. I cried at the end of The Singer’s Gun too. I think I cried during Station Eleven but it’s been a while and I don’t remember. 🙂 Mandel makes me care about characters who aren’t great people, who do things that irritate or make me feel frustrated. Humanizes, that’s the word I’m looking for. Oh, and there was a fun Easter Egg mentioning events in Station Eleven that made me gasp with delight.

Not quite as good as Station Eleven, but nearly there and incredibly absorbing.


Format: new hardback (owned)

31 thoughts on “The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

  1. Great review! I’m really looking forward to reading this one. I sooo enjoyed her writing in Station Eleven! Her writing voice is beautiful

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, that she draws the minor characters beautifully and that everything comes together by the end; I mentioned those two things in my own review.
    I’m not sure about real worlds that seem imaginary; I think the author is critical of this attempt and tries to show that if the real world “seems” imaginary to anyone it’s because that person isn’t looking at other people but going around all the time looking only inside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess what I meant by that is the way that one might look at the World of Money that Vincent gets into with Alkaitis. It’s so unreal to be able to buy anything, go anywhere, and even when she’s in it I feel like she knows it won’t last. I guess I meant an outsider perspective to that world, like one couldn’t even imagine the reality of that. But I see what you’re saying.

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  3. I’ve been really looking forward to this, but I’ve just noticed that the publication date has been put back to August in the UK. I suppose they’re hoping by then they’ll be able to do a full publicity tour; personally I think they’re being rather optimistic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my goodness… it’s impossible to predict the future and when I try it just makes me anxious! My attempts at meditation are really coming in handy these days!! I hope for everyone’s sake that things are more “normal” by August. 🙏


  4. Okay, excellent! I’ve now seen one negative review and three positive ones by blogging pals I trust, which I think is a good enough average for me to go ahead and read it. I truly loved Station Eleven and The Singer’s Gun, though two others of hers that I read were just okay. I think she’s brilliant at these twisty complicated plots that make everything click together like a perfect machine. It’s great.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ugh I need to read Station Eleven AND The Glass Hotel! The publisher was going to send me a copy of this book right before the pandemic but their warehouse shut down before they got a chance. Now, I have to either buy an e-reader so I can access books on netgalley or wait until things get back to normal which could take…who knows how long!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmmm. Can’t you access ebooks through some sort of app like the Kindle app or Libby? Just wondering. I don’t do Netgalley so I don’t know how that works.
      The good thing is that these books will be here waiting for you when you get to them. In the meantime, I bet your shelves are stocked with other great books!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve read a few reviews of this book lately, and I have to say that the most convincing line I’ve read so far is “It’s about loss, love, ghosts, and, of all things, shipping.” And me, being me, is weirdly the most interested in the ghosts and shipping part, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I felt the same way, Melanie, but I was also already a Mandel fan, so I feel like I should warn you that there really wasn’t as much of the nerdy shipping bits as I was hoping for (though other good stuff, yes).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. An absolutely perfect review. I adore that you described the plot, then went back and explained the book again. Books like this are so hard to pin down. When a story is truly about all the people and their relationships, the thread connecting them can often sound super boring. But that’s never the case when we’re talking about humanity. We’re far too complex.

    I am a bit embarrassed to say I didn’t know that she had other books besides Station Eleven! I, too, fell in love with her writing there. I want to re-read it, but not during this pandemic. I don’t think I could get past the first chapter… I’m glad you loved The Glass Hotel. I look forward to reading it later this year!

    …Do you think a re-read of Station Eleven should come first so I catch the easter egg? I honestly don’t recall much of the book beyond the basic plot, Shakespeare, and that I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review – you make it sound very tempting! I enjoyed Station Eleven but didn’t love it as much as you, but the plot of this sounds more interesting to me. I’ll look out for it when it arrives over here!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it too! I think I’ve already mentioned elsewhere that I read and reread all of her stuff earlier this year before reading The Glass Hotel and I just loved all the connections between the books. I felt like there were Easter Eggs in so many places — but I especially enjoyed the one that you’re talking about. It literally thrilled me. Wriggle-in-my-seat thrilled me. And, yes, rereading Station Eleven in February was pretty wild, but it was actually much less about the illness than I remembered it being, so much more about the relationships between the survivors…I was so glad to reread it because I’d forgotten or overlooked a tonne of details.

    Liked by 1 person

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