Last Night in Montreal [NOOK Book]

Overview


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 ...
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Last Night in Montreal

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Overview


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.
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Editorial Reviews

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: 9781936071456
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 646,507
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet 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.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent debut

    Eli doesn't realize that when Lilia leaves his Brooklyn apartment to go get the paper, she has left for good. Not until several hours later when he looks up from his graduate thesis and realizes she has disappeared. Something Lilia has been doing since she was seven years old.

    Lilia had not seen her father for years until one night, when she is seven, he tosses ice at her window and her home in Montreal. She immediately goes outside into his arms and they leave forever. They never stay anywhere longer than a couple of days, traveling around the US. Lilia writes in each bedside motel bible, unknown to her father variations of this: "I am not missing. Stop searching for me. I wish to remain vanishing. I don't want to go home."
    Christopher Graydon is the private detective who becomes obsessed with finding her while neglecting his own daughter, Michaela.

    Lilia ends up in Montreal after leaving Eli and meets up with Michaela who then sends Eli a postcard to come get her. But she refuses to tell Eli where she is until her own agenda is met.

    my review: I LOVED this book. I thought it was meaningful and compelling. Lilia is a mysterious, tragic figure as is Michaela. Eli is caught up by both of their stories and this makes for a brilliant debut novel.

    I also found the discussion of Eli's thesis on endangered languages to be very interesting, enough so that I am looking for a book to read more about this. I also found the language laws of Quebec to be fascinating as I was unaware of this. I also love reading books that lead me to other books or interests.

    But Lilia's story is the driving force that kept me hooked: why did she leave with her father, why did he come get her, why even as an adult can Lilia not stop vanishing?

    This is another fairly short novel that tells an amazing story in less than 300 pages. Run out and buy this book, I highly recommend it!

    my rating 5/5

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Captivating characters, great plot

    I received an uncorrected proof as an early reviewer for this book. I found the flow to be easy and kept my interest. The characters were well developed and the overall mood could have been heavy and dark, but Mandel did a great job at infusing hope and light into a potentially disheartening tale. I think this would translate wonderfully into film.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    One of my favorite books this year...

    As this book opens, Lilia has just disappeared from Eli's life. Without a hint, she has walked out of their life together and moved on. He knows she has left for good because that is her life strategy. Lilia was kidnapped by her father when she was seven, and spent her childhood traveling all over the United States with him, one step ahead of law enforcement. These years of traveling have made her unable to stay anywhere or with anyone for long.

    Eli is crushed, but a few weeks later, he gets a mysterious postcard from someone named Michaela who tells him that Lilia is now in Montreal. Eli immediately drops everything and goes to Montreal to attempt to find out who Michaela is, and where Lilia is now. It turns out that Michaela is the daughter of the detective who worked on the case of Lilia's kidnapping. He became obsessed and ended up deserting his own daughter and family while attempting to find Lilia.

    It is difficult for me to believe that Last Night In Montreal is Emily St. John Mandel's debut novel. It is a stunning book, easily one of the best I've read lately. The themes of traveling and inability to commit to a relationship, the lure of just stepping out of one life and starting another, and family secrets and obsessions are written about in a compelling fashion. I highly recommend this book to all readers, and I'm thrilled to have discovered it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful Story of Love and Leaving and Obsession

    Lilia Albert has been running away from people and places her entire life. It is a compulsion that has never had any consequences, at least until her latest boyfriend Eli takes to the road and follows her. Adding to the mix are other elements surrounding her long ago kid-napping - the private detective and his daughter, both whom have their own personal obsessions with the case. With alternating chapters between Eli's present and Lilia's past, the reader finds themselves hurtling through snippets in time towards an inevitable tragic ending. Mandel writes with refreshing sadness, the mystery and grief in her heart-wrenching story pulls you in and shows you everything in slow motion. And as you continue reading and learning what Lilia is running from and where she is running to, you will find yourself powerless to stop it. LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL is so full of emotion and history, it is amazing this book doesn't burst at the seams.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Interesting read

    Very well-written, liked the authors style of writing. Interesting twists and turns that kept me reading. Was kind of depressing though.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    Great read

    Great story,really drew me in. Check it out!

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  • Posted May 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    interesting character driven tale

    In Brooklyn, Eli Jacobs works on his thesis on dead and dying languages. Bored but disciplined, he fails to notice until he stops late in the day that his girlfriend dishwasher Lilia Albert, who went out for a paper never came home. Worried about Lila, he has no idea what happened.

    One month later, a stranger Michaela sends Eli a postcard from Montreal telling him that Lilia is living there. Relieved she is okay and leaving his intellectual snobbish friends back in the city, he heads to Canada to see Lila. Eli learns from Michaela that when Lila was seven years old her absentee affluent American father whom she never met before kidnapped her from her home with her Canadian mom and brother. Michaela is the daughter of private investigator Christopher Graydon who worked and obsessed over the abduction case; she resents Lila's intrusion through her dad's fixation in her family for almost two decades.

    LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL is an interesting character driven tale starring three wounded souls. Lilia has all sorts of relationships issues, which has led to her running away even before she and Eli moved in together. Eli remains hurt due to Lilia's abrupt abandonment. Finally Michaela feels her father abandoned her when he lived for the missing child case. Although at times the story line feels forced to bring out the neurosis, the cast makes for a profound look at the downside of relationships when forlorn adults feel loved ones deserted them.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted October 6, 2010

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    Posted August 23, 2011

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