Last Night in Montreal

Review  lnmesjm Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel, Unbridled Books 2009, 247 pages.

MOTIVATION for READING:    Finally, I have someone to blame!    And please don’t feel bad if I didn’t like it as much as you did – I liked it, just not as much.   But it’s fun to know that I read Violet’s review and then Nancy the Bookfool’s review and timing was right.   I ordered this and read it right away.    PLEASE click on these two reviews or click here for Fyrefly’s Google Search.

Violet says:    “This book had so many layers and emotions that it’s difficult to describe what exactly this book is about. All I can say is that I loved it. There is Eli who wants to find his love, Michaela who wants some answers and then there is the private investigator who watches his family fall apart in front of him but does not do anything about it. The writing is beautiful.”

Nancy says:   “Till the final pages of the novel, the reader is given little hints and it’s a bit like trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together but finding that someone has removed a third of the pieces and is returning them bit by bit until the last piece falls into place at the end of the story, when things become clear and then there is a jaw-dropping bit of action. That hint of mystery made the pages fly.”

My favorite thing about this book was the actual physical color of the hardback binding.


of course, the photo doesn’t show the truest awesome purple that I see… Sir William Perkin would be proud.   I also love that the cover photo does have something to do with the story.    Well done.

I don’t want to write a negative review – I want to write something that shares my misgivings and annoyances and yet still encourages you to read this book.     I don’t want any comments that say “I’m sorry this didn’t work for you.” because I’m not sorry I read it and you certainly shouldn’t be!    I don’t want any comments that say “Well, cool.   I can skip this one now.” because it is NOT my intent to dissuade you and or save you from wasting time reading inferior crap.    This IS a cool book and extremely well-written.   The mood the author creates.  The suspense!   The mystery that unfolds slowly – you’ll just have to read it to find out.    I hope what I write isn’t spoilering but rather inspires interest.

But gosh darn it.     This is NOT a book of good parenting skills.    I was stunned by Christopher’s behavior.   And, early in the story, I can’t quite imagine a house that is so cold that a glass of water on a bedside totally freezes solid and I suppose I should just be grateful for that, but it stopped me – really?  that’s COLD.   I was annoyed that I couldn’t figure out how old the brother was, and this made me stop and flip and try to find what I missed.    It bugged me – I didn’t figure it out until the end that he was an older brother and I suppose it could have been the design of the author to do so, but it bugged me nonetheless.     The word ‘pedantic’ – do people really USE that word in spoken conversation?   Maybe I just don’t hang in high-vocab circles but this bugged me.    And I wish I knew more about the story of Icarus.    I suppose I should have STOPPED and gone to find it because it is a theme of the book – so I just might encourage you to learn of it to help NOT trip up the story; like tripping on a rug in a room but not falling – you still cross over to the kitchen but the timing gets ‘off’, ya know?     And…  this is a big one:     if Eli was so scared she was leaving, could he really have forgotten the events from the night before and just got so lost in his work when it seemed, overall, he really wasn’t all that into it!??!?!??!?!??!?!??!?!??!    that bugged me, too.

Sigh.     icarus

However, did you see the bit in my latest review post where I tell you that THIS book referenced the Dakota language?!    I loved finding this!   I love random connections from one book to the next when they really have no obvious relation.

And from the very first sentence, “No one stays forever.” to the very last scene, I was hooked.  Bugged and tripped up occasionally, but HOOKED.

Lilia swallowed and found her voice, “You sound happy.”
“I am.”
“Where are you going?”
“Far away,”  Michaela said.  She smiled then, already leaving, and walked away down the platform to meet her train.



I can’t decide – between 3 and 4 pie slices…

18 thoughts on “Last Night in Montreal

  1. I read a lot of books that I feel the same way about. You like the book, but…You keep feeling “if only, the author had…then I would have loved the book.” And they are very often books I still recommend because I think they are well written and someone with a different perspective may like it even more than I did. I’m reading this soon for a book club–will have to review Icarus before I do!

  2. Thanks for being so truthful, and I understand how you can feel that way about a book. It stinks, but even if you don’t necessarily love a book, you can still learn a lot from it (or at least that is what I try to tell myself, haha.)

    P.S. : That is an awesome color! Nice use of it in your post! ;p

  3. I’ve read books like that, ones that hooked me in and kept me there, but had parts that really bugged me or annoyed me. Great review!

  4. Care! How are you! I now want to read this by the way! And how do *I* get to be a New England Blogger??

    One more thing….I tried to write you the other day (about my progress and such) and it got returned…why??

    xoxo Amy (Park-Avenue Princess)

    Who is having an AMAZING GIVEAWAY Jewelry and Books! Stop by!

  5. ha…I’m happy unless you didn’t feel like not finishing the book or throwing it against the wall.

    I was very frustated with Christopher too but it also made the book more interesting for me. There are wierd people around and I just took him to be one of them 🙂

  6. Oh Care, you are too cute! I loved this review, because I totally get that whole combination of feelings. And ooooh my, that is one lovely book cover…this must be the one you mentioned, huh? See, I’d love to have that beautiful plain purple cover sitting on my bookcase much for than that jacket flap. So why can’t I seem to rid myself of the darn things?

  7. I definitely get what you’re saying. There were moments that I felt like I’d been blind-folded and turned in a circle and I was dizzy. But, in general, I loved the writing and the mystery kept tugging me forward. Also, it’s really interesting to see my own quote. I read that and thought, “I WROTE THAT? Hey, that’s . . . you know, not bad.” Oh, vanity, vanity.

    Did you see that my review was quoted in an ad for the book — in the New York Times Book Review? And, all they quoted was one hyphenated word, “jaw-dropping”. Sigh. I thought I had some nicer sound bites, but still. New York Times Book Review. Cool. More vanity, there.

    1. Yes, Kathy, it would be a fantastic book club discussion. and you obviously don’t know just how much I LURVE the color purple. It still is my favorite thing abt this book!

  8. I’m still interested to read this book – actually more so, since you mentioned Icarus! I took a bunch of years of Latin in grade school, so we learned allll the myths, like, ever, and I like the Icarus story. There’s a wonderful painting by Brueghel, “The Fall of Icarus”, and a maybe-even-wonderfuller poem by Auden about the Brueghel painting, “Musee des Beaux Artes”. Lovely.

  9. I had not been able to open the dust jacket, since it was a library copy and the cover was already taped. But glad to see the beautiful cover inside! I thought the brother was older (right at the beginning of the story), and now I wonder why I thought that. Maybe because he “seemed” mature? And that bit about Eli being so scared about her leaving and then immersing himself into his work the next day bugged me too, darn I missed that in my review.

    I’ll wait for your email! (Which you mentioned in my post comments)

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