Publication Date: March 2015
Format: Paperback, 256 pgs
I am sure many readers are familiar with this author's name - Emily St. John Mandel. After all, she is the author of Station Eleven and this book was well received by critics; most of them stating her writing beautiful and lyrical. I should have picked up this book based on all the glowing reviews but instead, I decided on reading her debut, Last Night in Montreal. Why? Perhaps I wanted to have a feel of her writing first before I dive into her other well-known works, not that LNIM isn't popular and anyway I believe readers who loved Station Eleven would have snapped up Emily's earlier works by now.
Rambling aside, here is what I thought of Last Night in Montreal. Did I love it? Yes! Is Emily's writing good? It is more than good; her writing is as what other readers said - beautiful and lyrical. Most of all, I loved the way how she plot the story; intertwining with flashbacks and some doses of lost memories and melancholy. So what is the story about? It is a love story, a mystery and basically it is a story of a girl, Lilia, who travels since young and why she never stays in a place for long. When she was seven, her father "abducted" her. They travelled from a state to another, sometimes to Canadian border and little Lilia finds them very thrilling. This thrill continues all the way to her twenties, and though she no longer travels with her father the thought of staying at a place never lingers in her mind.
Lilia befriended some friends and found herself a few lovers during her travellings, but it is Eli, her most recent boyfriend, who finds her leaving most puzzling and is adamant to find her, even if it means leaving for Montreal and French is a foreign language to him. There, he met Michaela, who is the one who tipped him off about Lilia's whereabouts in the first place but she wants some answers from Eli first. You see, Michaela is the daughter of a private detective who is entrusted to oversee the case of Lilia's disappearance years ago.
While Lilia seems to take the centre stage in this novel, I think Michaela and her father also play a huge part in this story. So what did I think of Emily's debut? I was totally entranced by her storytelling; and yes I was blown away by the ending, too. All in all, it is a well-rendered melancholy story about human connections.