The Glass Hotel – Emily St John Mandel

“Begin at the end: plummeting down the side of the ship in the storm’s wild darkness, breath gone with the shock of falling, my camera flying away through the rain-“

Vincent is the child of her father’s infidelity, leaving her with a strange relationship with her half-brother, Paul. The pair’s lives take very different turns, but again and again crossing paths. Drug addiction, stolen artwork, sham marriage, fame, ponzi schemes and the financial crash – all of these and more weave through this tale. And the Glass Hotel itself, in glorious isolation in the wilds of Canada.

I’ve been meaning to read the much-lauded Station Eleven for the longest time, and perhaps should have taken more care to read the blurb on this one before jumping at the request! Which isn’t to say that it’s not a good read – in fact, it’s brilliantly written with such a skill with words – but to be honest I found it all a bit too ‘literary fiction’ for my tastes. I prefer stronger plots rather than haunting imagery. Still, I found it a bit reminiscent of Margaret Atwood, which is no faint praise!

Vincent is the main character, mostly, although the story goes back and forth both in time and between her and other characters impacted by some of the same events. It was fascinating, seeing ripples spreading out from incidents large and small.

A large chunk of the narrative involves a thinly disguised version of Bernie Madden’s ponzi scheme and the global financial crash. I suppose I have more interest than most in such things (I worked in finance, albeit a tech side, during those events), but it’s still not quite what I was expecting. I think I would rather have spent more time understanding Vincent, or even Paul (not that I found him likeable). Or, actually, something that gave the amazing ‘Glass Hotel’ more reason for being the title.

Overall: I’m glad I read this, but not my preferred genre. If you like lit-fic more than I do, this seems like a stonkingly well-written slice of it!

NetGalley eARC: 320 pages / 16 chapters
First published: 30th April 2020
Series: none
Read from 16th-23rd April 2020

My rating: 7/10 – deserves better, but for my tastes

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