The Glass Hotel

In her first novel in more than five years, National Book Award Finalist Emily St. John Mandel (Station Eleven) abandons apocalyptic settings for another kind of crisis, but again thoughtfully examines the rebuilt lives people precariously arrange after a major collapse.

Mandel opens with the 2018 drowning of beautiful, adventurous young woman Vincent Smith, "plummeting down the side of the ship in the storm's wild darkness." A dying desire to see her older half-brother, Paul, brings her to him somehow, the first of several ghostly visitations that haunt the characters. Mandel then steps back through time to the late 1990s and travels a circuitous route to the moment of Vincent's death, twisting through the '90s club scene, the isolated wilderness of Vancouver Island and a Ponzi scheme that highlights the scams and excesses of the U.S. economy on the cusp of the Great Recession. During a stint as a bartender at a remote hotel, Vincent catches the eye of financier Jonathan Alkaitis and she becomes his companion in "the kingdom of money." When his subterfuge unravels, the repercussions impact Vincent, a chorus of office staff and many innocent investors. 

Half mist and dreams, this sophisticated take on the fragility of human connection and the ability to make do with less after the loss of success is a far cry from an acting troupe traveling the post-apocalyptic world. However, its concern with the sanding of life's jagged edges remains true to readers' expectations of Mandel's incisive vision. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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