Publisher: Knopf / Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: March 24, 2020
Genre: Adult Fiction / Literary Fiction
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star hotel 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.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for Neptune-Avradimis, reads the words and orders a drink to calm down. Alkaitis, the owner of the hotel and a wealthy investment manager, arrives too late to read the threat, never knowing it was intended for him. He leaves Vincent a hundred dollar tip along with his business card, and a year later they are living together as husband and wife.
High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. He holds the life savings of an artist named Olivia Collins, the fortunes of a Saudi prince and his extended family, and countless retirement funds, including Leon Prevant’s. The collapse of the financial empire is as swift as it is devastating, obliterating fortunes and lives, while Vincent walks away into the night. Until, years later, she steps aboard a Neptune-Avramidis vessel, the Neptune Cumberland, and disappears from the 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, the business of international shipping, 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.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel was just as epic and all-consuming as I was hoping it would be. After reading and loving Station Eleven, I had high expectations for this novel and it definitely lived up to them for me!
“Why don’t you swallow broken glass”
The audio version of The Glass Hotel was fantastic, and I listened to the majority of the book before switching to the physical copy for about the last 70 pages. This author clearly knows what she’s good at, and this is emphasized by how much The Glass Hotel resembles Station Eleven. The writing style and format were very similar, but this deals with an entirely different subject matter and isn’t dystopian, although some of it is set in the future.
I was fascinated by the Ponzi scheme aspect of this novel and how it effects people. In my mind, this book was very reminiscent of the movie Wolf of Wall Street which is a movie I really enjoyed. I know absolutely nothing about finance, but it was still interesting for me, and that probably has a lot do with the writing and how everything is tied together.
I thought The Glass Hotel had a relatively slow start, but I think slow and steady is the way for this one and it’s a book you will want to savor. The characters are multi-dimensional and highly flawed, and they were honestly very interesting. My favorite character was by far Vincent, and I loved her bluntness and brains.
Lyrical and atmospheric are just 2 words I would use to describe The Glass Hotel. I think if you liked Station Eleven that you would like this book as well, and I seriously need to focus on this author’s backlist now!
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Thank you to Libro.fm and the publisher for my advance listening copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own.