INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the bestselling author of Station Eleven and Sea of Tranquility, an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events—the exposure of a massive criminal enterprise and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.
“The perfect novel ... Freshly mysterious.” —The Washington Post
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby's glass wall: Why don’t you swallow broken glass. High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis's billion-dollar business is really nothing more than a game of smoke and mirrors. When his scheme collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.
In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.
Look for Emily St. John Mandel’s bestselling new novel, Sea of Tranquility!
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Emily St. John Mandel is emerging as one of the most exciting literary voices around. Her previous bestseller, Station Eleven, centered on a Shakespearean troupe traversing a postapocalyptic America. In The Glass Hotel, she weaves together a deeply affecting, mesmerizing story that involves a luxe resort on a remote British Columbia island perpetually shrouded in fog; an estranged brother and sister flung apart by resentment, addiction, and betrayal; a Bernie Madoff–level Ponzi scheme; and a humungous container ship that serves as a refuge for the book’s main character, Vincent, when her life falls apart. Mandel’s scope is astonishing. Even more so is her talent for writing characters who are so singular and specific they feel like they could walk off the page.
Mandel's wonderful novel (after Station Eleven) follows a brother and sister as they navigate heartache, loneliness, wealth, corruption, drugs, ghosts, and guilt. Settings include British Columbia's coastal wilderness, New York City's fashionable neighborhoods and corporate headquarters, a container ship in international waters, and a South Carolina prison. In 1994, 18-year-old drug-using dropout Paul Smith visits his 13-year-old half-sister, Vincent, in Vancouver. Vincent has just lost her mother and acquired her first video camera. Five years later, in the wilderness north of Vancouver, Vincent tends bar at a luxury hotel where Paul works as the night houseman. Paul leaves after writing on a window in acid marker a message even he doesn't understand. Vincent relocates to the East Coast and what Mandel calls the kingdom of money to play trophy wife for investor Jonathan Alkaitis. When Jonathan's Ponzi scheme collapses, he goes to prison, where his victims' ghosts visit him. Finished with Jonathan and the affluent lifestyle and ignored by her best friend, Vincent takes a job as assistant cook on a container ship. Paul, meanwhile, has set Vincent's old videos to music. The videos have helped Paul, despite a lifelong drug problem, tap into his creative gifts. Using flashbacks, flash-forwards, alternating points-of-view, and alternate realities, Mandel shows the siblings moving in and out of each other's lives, different worlds, and versions of themselves, sometimes closer, sometimes further apart, like a double helix, never quite linking. This ingenious, enthralling novel probes the tenuous yet unbreakable bonds between people and the lasting effects of momentary carelessness. 200,000-copy announced first printing.)
“The Glass Hotel” is another brilliant journey through the human experience by Emily St. John Mandel. Her style and the voice she gives her characters is so distinguishable from others. In this novel we get more of that meta analysis on the human condition, specifically on what it means to find one’s purpose in life. What’s different in this book is the timeline and setting. Grounded and in the present compared to her other future-scape novels.
The contemporary backdrop makes this book even more personable and challenges your understanding of self accountability. The cadre of players across the chapters have their unique personal baggage and their moral inconsistencies. St. John Mandel, however, does not make it easy to judge them blindly. We are in their lived experience and in their struggles completely. All thanks to the careful framing and character development she meters out over the pages.
What really moves me about this book and other St. John Mandel works is that her novels capture the stories of relationships against the bleakest of settings. The Glass Hotel in particular takes us through a deeply human problem. Specifically, the nuanced sequence of events that precedes us making decisions that leave us in a state of moral compromise. What follows is the guilt and isolation from wrestling with that pain. A great read and highly recommended.
Quick beach read
I liked the way the characters were woven together and the theme of “is any one really innocent/ aren’t we all complicit “ was interesting. I was waiting for a little bit more mystery and intrigue though that never quite came… overall enjoyable and felt compelled to continue to finish but otherwise likely won’t re-read in the future
The Glass Hotel
The title is a bit on the nose. Beautifully written but depressing. Only the main character had any redeeming qualities but she was like a little paper boat going down a sewer drain…life inevitably dragging her down due to no inherent defenses. And waaay too much sympathy for the devils in the story.
Too much ennui in place of moral outrage.