Last Night in Montreal
by Emily St. John Mandel
Publication date: March 12th 2015
Publisher: Picador (first published June 3rd 2009)
Lilia has been leaving people behind her entire life. Haunted by her inability to remember her early childhood, and by a mysterious shadow that seems to dog her wherever she goes, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and friends along the way. But then she meets Eli, and he’s not ready to let her go, not without a fight.
Gorgeously written, charged with tension and foreboding, Emily St. John Mandel’s Last Night in Montreal is the story of a life spent at the centre of a criminal investigation. It is a novel about identity, love and amnesia, the depths and limits of family bonds and – ultimately – about the nature of obsession.
“Stop looking for me. I’m not missing; I do not want to be found. I wish to remain vanishing. I don’t want to go home.”
I picked up “Last Night in Montreal” in my local library because I know that everyone raves about “Station Eleven” and I felt like I must have missed something when writing my relatively critical review back in 2018! Wanting to give author Emily St. John Mandel another try, the bright green text on the front of this book drew me in and I took it out.
Just like “Station Eleven” this book is told across time frames. Published back in 2009, this was the author’s debut novel and I think it’s very cleverly written. The story follows Lilia Albert and her father, both on the run, being followed by a private detective for most of Lilia’s life. The detective is obsessed with the case and simply won’t let it go.
Living a lifestyle on the run, Lilia can never stay in one place for too long, meaning she regularly leaves those she meets, and loves, behind.
I found this book to be really quite immersive and I completed it in just two sittings. It’s a sad and dark story with some quite deep psychological elements, but it’s also an enjoyable, atmospheric read. I found the ending particularly poignant.
There were a few times when I felt a little lost in the story and couldn’t quite grasp who was who, and also a few points where the story just felt a little slow and lacking progress.
I’m really glad I gave Emily St. John Mandel another try, I’m very open to trying more of her books in the future!
Overall rating: “Last Night in Montreal” by Emily St. John Mandel is a well written story of Lillia, a young woman on the run. I enjoyed hearing her story and devoured it in a few days. A nice 4 star read for me!