Synopses & Reviews
Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along with way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she's safe. Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession. In this extraordinary debut, Emily St. John Mandel casts a powerful spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world charged with an atmosphere of mystery, promise and foreboding where small revelations continuously change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel's characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.
"A young woman with a habit of running away runs away yet again in Mandel's competent if unremarkable debut. As Eli finishes another grim day of work on his thesis (its topic: dead and dying languages) in his Brooklyn apartment, he realizes his girlfriend, Lilia, never returned after going out for the newspaper that morning. About a month later, Eli gets a postcard from someone named Michaela in Montreal telling him that Lilia is there, so he heads north, leaving (thankfully) his insufferable friends behind to natter on about art without him. His quest is interspersed with flashbacks to Lilia's childhood: her father kidnaps her at age seven from her mother's house, and the two go on the lam. Back in present-day Montreal, Eli meets Michaela, who happens to be the daughter of the detective who years ago worked on Lilia's abduction case, and together they try to fill in the blanks of Lilia's past. While the plot is interesting enough, the prose often feels forced and the characters sometimes amount to accumulations of quirks, whimsies and neuroses. An intriguing idea, but the delivery isn't quite there. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Last Night in Montreal marks the debut of a lyrical voice, singing its heart out. Please sit up and take notice. It's a beautiful work." Darin Strauss
"[A] taut, gripping debut...[E]legantly compelling." Booklist
"The fast pacing and unusual characters make this a compelling first novel. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Mandel chooses her words with careful love and arranges them to exquisite effect....[H]er lines follow each other with near breathless precision and echo delicately long after the final page has been turned." ForeWord magazine
Lila Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets. "Last Night in Montreal" is a story of love, amnesia, the depths and limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession.
About the Author
Emily St. John Mandel was born on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada, in 1979. She studied dance at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York. She lives in Brooklyn.