Books we've already loved

The Glass Hotel


Emily St John Mandel’s previous novel, the best-selling cult hit ‘Station Eleven’ uncomfortably imagined a post-pandemic world, ravaged by a lethal swine-flu. Fans of ‘Station Eleven’ will spot familiar characters and settings in her poignant, evocative new novel, ‘The Glass Hotel’, which hovers in a parallel universe, just before the pandemic, and centres on the 2008 financial crash and the spectacular toppling of a Ponzi scheme.

This is an exquisitely other-worldly novel, which, like the Glass Hotel of its title, is somehow crystalline and prismatic, with multiple threads of narrative interweaving through time. The story centres on Vincent, a directionless young woman working as a bartender at the Glass Hotel in a remote Vancouver island location, who is picked up by a wealthy financier, and, chameleon-like, adapts to a new life as a trophy-wife.

She drifts through this life, oddly untouched by the trappings of immense wealth, until it all comes crashing down after her husband’s unscrupulous financial dealings come back to bite him. The narrative glitches
back and forth in time, before and after the Ponzi scheme collapse, snap-shotting its victims and perpetrators, returning again and again to Vincent, her childhood on the remote island, her troubled, drug-addicted brother, beginning and ending with the eventual mystery of her disappearance while working on board a cargo ship.
Cleverly constructed with intricate layers, sensitive characterisations, and writing which is both precise and dream-like, this will appeal to fans of writers such as David Mitchell.