The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

GlassMy TL:DR Five Word Review : Could not put it down

To be honest, I requested a review copy of The Glass Hotel because I loved Station Eleven. I didn’t read the description and when I picked up the book I’d only read a couple of reviews and had very little idea what to expect, although I was becoming a little nervous because on the face of it the premise seemed a little outside of my comfort zone.  In fact, if somebody was to try and give me an idea of what The Glass Hotel was about I think it would probably come across really badly and I’d undoubtedly run a mile.  So, basically, I’m not going to talk about the plot at all because I think at best I would end up tying myself in knots and at worst maybe even discourage others from reading this because of my botched attempt at summarising the gist of the story.

Here’s a snippet from Goodreads :

‘From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.’

So, I’m going to focus on other things here and it’s all going to be positive.

On the face of it a story spread over a couple of decades with a backdrop that examines the financial crisis of 2008 particularly centring on ponzi schemes couldn’t sound less appealing to me even if it tried.  And yet, here I find myself absolutely loving this book and wanting to wax lyrical about it. To be blunt, I simply can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story.  I feel like I’ve been mesmerized or hypnotised or some special magic has been worked.  I read this in one day, ignoring the everyday mundane banalities such as eating or chores and in fact staying up until the wee hours to finish it and even though I was shattered when I eventually crashed into bed I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

This book is complex.  It goes back and forth between people and times and yet it all comes together in perhaps one of the most satisfying ways I’ve ever encountered.  The characters are so well imagined that I feel like I know them and the strong emotions that this creates really contributes to the overall experience.

On top of this the writing is brilliant.  I take my hat off to the author for pulling together such a myriad of tales using what can reasonably be described as quite ‘dry’ material and yet managing to make this into a compelling tale filled with mystery, sadness and unexpected depth.

To be honest, I’m not going to say too much more because I feel like my review has taken on the semblance of a headless chicken running around hysterically.

In a nutshell I loved this book.  It’s a haunting story, beautifully written, that depicts people in many guises.  Like a pebble dropped into a pond it look at the ripples we cause through our actions, sometimes knowingly, sometimes whilst fiercely in denial and sometimes by pure chance. It’s not a heartwarming tale of love and laughter.  It’s not a tale of swords and sorcery.  But it’s a book that managed to overwhelm me in the most unexpected way and, because of that, I love it.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5 of 5 stars





19 Responses to “The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    When we try a book that’s out of our usual “stomping grounds” and we end up loving it without reservations, it means that there is indeed *magic* in this world – and this seems to be the case from your reaction to this novel 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I don’t know if others will feel the same or not but this really worked for me even though it’s outside my usual comfort zone.
      lynn 😀

  2. sjhigbee

    What a wonderful, inspired review – and it is very much tempting me to get hold of this one and dive in… Though, like you, I really am underwhelmed at the prospect of revisiting the carcrash that was the 2008 financial meltdown, caused by the greediness of the large financial institutions who should have known better – especially as the fallout fell on the shoulders of the rest of us, while they wandered off virtually unscathed. Erm… rant over, sorry about that! But despite of all of the above, your review has me wanting to order this one from the library:)). Thank you, Lynn!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you do. I would love to know how you feel about it and I can genuinely say this is one of the biggest surprises in book terms. I started reading and was really thinking I’d end up putting it down – instead I stayed up very late and completed the whole thing.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        I love it when that happens! I’ve just put this one on my TBR…

      • @lynnsbooks

        Excellent 😀

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Oh wow, thanks for putting this on my radar again, I think I snagged the audio for revie a while back but it kind of slipped through the cracks. So glad to hear it was so good!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was so unexpected for me – I just didn’t expect to read it and yet I read it in one sitting.
      Lynn 😀

  4. waytoofantasy

    I had forgotten about this one but it sounds amazing, like one of those books that’s a bit of a puzzle or a mystery to be solved. Might have to check this one out. Glad you liked it so much!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It took me by surprise. I still can’t understand how any author can make financial ‘issues’ this good! There is definitely a mystery element to this and it’s really interesting seeing how everything links up.
      Lynn 😀

  5. bkfrgr

    I still have to read Station Eleven. *sigh*
    And this sounds awesome too, so onto the list it goes! *double sigh (ironically)* 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha, I feel you – too little time, too many books. But, wouldn’t the reverse be quite awful – too much time, too few books.
      Lynn 😀

      • bkfrgr

        That would be a NIGHTMARE! Thank goodness for our reader problems! 😆

  6. proxyfish

    I absolutely love finding a book that won’t stay out of my head! I still haven’t read Station Eleven though… and I own two copies of it!! 😂

  7. Top Ten Tuesday : Reading in a time of Covid | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandell […]

  8. Looking Back at 2020 : The Ghost of Books Past | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandell – I can’t even begin to describe this book, it would just sound so dry – economics, finance, Ponzi schemes – and yet, it works so incredibly well.  A beautifully written tale with many threads that come together in the most satisfactory way imaginable. […]

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