Last Night in Montreal

Overview

When Lilia Albert was a child, her father appeared on the doorstep of her mother's house and took her away. Now, haunted by an inability to remember much about her early childhood, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and eluding the private detective who has dedicated a career to following close behind.

Then comes Eli. When Lilia goes out for a paper and fails to return to their Brooklyn apartment, he follows her to Montreal, not knowing whether he wants ...

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Last Night in Montreal

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Overview

When Lilia Albert was a child, her father appeared on the doorstep of her mother's house and took her away. Now, haunted by an inability to remember much about her early childhood, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and eluding the private detective who has dedicated a career to following close behind.

Then comes Eli. When Lilia goes out for a paper and fails to return to their Brooklyn apartment, he follows her to Montreal, not knowing whether he wants to disappear, too, or help her find her way home. But what he discovers is a deeper mystery, one that will set past and present spinning toward collision.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Breathtaking. . . . Simply blew me away.”—Nancy Pearl, NPR, “Morning Edition” 
 
 “Emily St. John Mandel is astonishing.” —Emma Straub, author of The Vacationers
  
“Stunning. . . . A brilliant tale of desperation and identity.” —Richmond Review
 
“Lilia is more or less Newton’s first law of motion personified. . . . [A] knot of a novel.” —The New York Times
 
“[Mandel’s] writing is pure elegance.” —Patrick DeWitt, author of Sisters Brothers

“[Mandel] is a stunningly beautiful writer whose complex, flawed, and well-drawn characters linger with you.” Sarah McCarry, Tor.com
 
“The pages fly.” —Paste
 
Last Night in Montreal is an exciting debut: a thriller, a love story, and a quiet ballad about life's fleeting connections.” —Quill & Quire
 
“Taut, gripping. . . . The lost souls in this elegantly compelling novel are lost to themselves as much as they are to others.” —Booklist
 
“Mandel is a terrific writer, so good that even the furthest reaches of her tale make perfect sense.” PopMatters.com
 
“Shockingly real, and so hard to put down.” Three Guys One Book
 
“Exquisite. . . . At its heart this book is a mystery, a few mysteries; we wait and we wonder while being charmed by Mandel’s intricate narrative dance.” —Foreword magazine

Publishers Weekly

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)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

When Lilia Albert is seven, the father she has not seen in more than a year suddenly appears in the middle of the night and steals her away from her rural Canadian home. She is never again seen by her mother or brother. Instead, her independently wealthy dad moves her from one U.S. city to another, along the way educating her in matters both practical and not. Is he a spurned ex-husband who refuses to accept the court's custody decision? Or is he Lilia's savior, taking her away from something awful? When the novel opens, Lilia is a twentysomething Brooklyn dishwasher living with a disgruntled grad student named Eli Jacobs. When Lilia unceremoniously leaves him-a pattern she's perfected-Eli is bereft. As he obsessively searches for her, the story integrates the viewpoints of private investigator Christopher Graydon and Graydon's neglected daughter, Michaela, who has long resented Lilia's looming presence in her family's life. While the plot is occasionally contrived, the fast pacing and unusual characters make this a compelling first novel. Highly recommended for all contemporary fiction collections.
—Eleanor J. Bader

The Barnes & Noble Review
We know from the second sentence of Last Night in Montreal that protagonist Lilia disappears, but it is the first sentence -- "No one stays forever" -- that defines this beautiful, complicated, and occasionally disappointing debut novel. Lilia enters grad student Eli's spartan and stable life one day at a coffee shop. She has a bohemian beauty (Eli finds her choppy, self-barbered hair "thrilling") and a fascination with his study of dead and dying languages. At first, this seems to hold the key to Mandel's plot: We constantly misinterpret the words of the people we love. It's less important to know about Eli than to know he cares enough about Lilia to try and understand why she, in her own words, "doesn't know how to stay." Lilia, used to an itinerant lifestyle after years of moving rapidly with her father, leaves Eli in one city and pops up in another, living with the mysterious Michaela. Michaela's father, police officer Charles Graydon, is also chasing Lilia -- but his reasons for doing so couldn't be more different from Eli's. Unfortunately for plot cohesion, at this point the idea that "no one stays forever" takes over, and sometimes remembering why an event or character matters takes effort. Fortunately for Mandel's future as a novelist, that theme was the right one to pursue. The author is concerned with the different faces of neglect and their consequences. Once Lilia's full story is revealed, characters understand each other all too well -- and perhaps too late. Mandel's exquisite use of language and pacing mean that every last word counts, up to the very last sentence. --Bethanne Patrick
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101911952
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/4/2015
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 551,442

Meet the Author

Emily St. John Mandel was born in British Columbia, Canada. Her most recent novel, Station Eleven, was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller. Her previous novels were Last Night in MontrealThe Singer’s Gun, and The Lola Quartet. She is a staff writer for The Millions, and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2013and Venice Noir. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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