The Glass Hotel: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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Hardcover, Deckle Edge
Shortlisted for The Scotiabank Giller Prize
A Time Magazine Must Read Book of 2020
A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of the Year
Number One National Best Seller
New York Times Best Seller
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.
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later, Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.
Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 28 minutes|
|Author||Emily St. John Mandel|
|Audible.ca Release Date||March 24 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #64 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Psychological Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#1 in British Detective Stories
#1 in Traditional Detective Mysteries
Top reviews from Canada
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What does an author do for an encore after the overflowing success of a book they have written? What did Vonnegut do after Slaughterhouse Five, his iconic masterpiece set in wartime Dresden? He produced book after book, all as good if not better than Slaughterhouse Five. He did not let the success of Slaughterhouse Five damper his creative energy. In Mandel’s case, Station Eleven, her fourth novel, was a blockbuster, translated into thirty-five languages. How could she top that success? Wasn’t Station Eleven the pinnacle of success for Mandel? It appears not. Like Vonnegut, I can see Mandel continuing to produce opus after opus without consideration of past successes. Mandel is not one to rest on her laurels. The Glass Hotel is as good if not better than Station Eleven although the comparison is difficult because The Glass Hotel is in an entirely different genre than Station Eleven. Station Eleven is a dystopian drama with a hopeful ending whereas The Glass Hotel is in a genre difficult to pinpoint. I’m not sure in what section of the bookstore this book belongs. Is it a crime drama, a thriller, a cautionary tale? It’s all of those and maybe more.
In The Glass Hotel, Mandel taunts us with her masterful foretelling just as she did in her previous novels. Mandel has the ability to take us to a peak of intensity before laying down a seemingly random insight into the future leading us into a crescendo of resolution. In this novel Mandel weaves in and out of a metaphysical world that connects her characters in a web of intrigue and of consummate dissatisfaction. Most of her characters we might consider losers. Certainly, most of them are so bent on living a comfortable life that they are willing to invest all of themselves and their life savings in a Ponzi scheme run by a charming narcissist who convinces them that their lives and money are safe with him. Of course, they are mostly oblivious to the dangers involved in the kind of investment offered to them, but frankly, most of them are willing to turn a blind eye to the possibility of danger by the promise of wealth and glory. Some are not and become complicit themselves in the Ponzi. It was hard for me to relate to any of the characters although aspects of each of their personalities have attractive qualities suggesting that they are real humans engaged in real human activity. So, in fact, I could relate to all the characters in a limited sense. Not all the characters in the book are Ponzi involved. The ones that aren’t are flawed in their own ways, but they are also on personal quests to find the peaceful life. By the end of the book we learn that all the characters, the ones that haven’t died, have adapted to their circumstances and carry on with life. I love the way Mandel grounds her characters in place yet lets them wander in and out of place, sometimes with unpleasant results, sometimes with a sense of inevitability. She includes a number of sub-plots in the development of her main plot yet they are all connected to the core of the novel and to the main characters. These sub-plots tell a rich story. I am particularly attracted to Olivia’s story. Maybe it’s because she is an artist struggling in a commercial and nasty world.
I don’t want to give away any of the delicious story of The Glass Hotel, so I have avoided mentioning specific characters and their roles in the book. I leave you to discover those for yourselves.
The Glass Hotel is a sensitive and essentially voyeuristic romp through the lives of a number of flawed characters, each with their own set of redeeming qualities, some more veiled than others. The way I judge any book I read, fiction or non-fiction is in my reluctance to put it down. I found The Glass Hotel difficult to put down. I read it well into the night, uncharacteristically for me, I can assure you of that!.
I strongly recommend The Glass Hotel. It has superb plot development, a fascinating cast of sometimes endearing, sometimes despicable characters, and it is also a cautionary tale and a lesson in caveat emptor along with an exploration into the psychology of wishful thinking. Finally, it offers hope in the resilience some people demonstrate in the face of grievous loss. Get the book. Read it.
My only wish is that the publisher had done a better job of proofreading: I’ve already found a handful of minor punctuation errors that should have been spotted. (Sorry, I’m an ESL prof who notices these things despite my best efforts to look past them.)
I’m looking forward to exploring more of Mandel’s work.
Top reviews from other countries
I had been struck by the fact that while her previous four novels had all seemed very good, they were also markedly different from each other, as if she is determined to defy genre. That applies equally to the Glass Hotel which combines a number of different themes, and crosses several genres.
The principal character is Vincent, a young woman whom (apart from a very brief opening chapter) we first encounter as a troubled teenager in the early 1990s. Her mother had disappeared, presumed drowned in the seas off Vancouver Island. We also meet Paul, her older half-brother, who has his own challenges, principally in the form of substance abuse.
The story follows Paul as he studies finance at the University of Toronto (although really, he just wants to write and play music). After a disastrous encounter with a rock band that is on the cusp of breaking through, Paul almost becomes a recluse, but hooks up again with Vincent and her best friend Melissa to celebrate the arrival of the new millennium.
Five years later, Vincent is established as a bar attendant in a luxurious hotel on the remote island in British Columbia where she had grown up. Paul, following one of his periods of detox and rehab, has just returned there, and is also working at the hotel. Late one night, one of the few guests is suffering insomnia, and spends most of the night in the bar, sitting by the Hotel’s signature picture window. Having briefly left his seat, he returns to find that someone has written a threatening message on the glass. It soon becomes apparent that the ‘someone’ is Paul, and his employment there ends that night.
Vincent’s own employment at the hotel ends a couple of nights later when she leaves in company with a wealthy guest, who is, as it happens, its owner. He is head of a successful finance house, and within weeks, they are living together as husband and wife. Vincent does her best to fit in with life in the exalted circles in which she now moves, but never relinquishes her grasp on the realities of life. That is just as well, because within a few years that new lifestyle will come to an end in the most dramatic manner.
The characters are all finely drawn, and very plausible, with their respective emotions (and especially their resentments against each other) being completely convincing. As always with her books, there is a very cleverly managed interlacing of storylines. What goes around definitely seems to come around, but this does not hamper the reader’s complete acceptance of the story.
This book might not be quite as spectacular in its impact as Station Eleven, but it is just as powerful and haunting.
No pandemic here, it is all about the white-collar crime. Although... It is so much more than a Ponzi scheme! It is about the fragility of life, the choices we make, the "counterlife", what might have been (or indeed is in some sort of parallel universe), the fatality, the impossible and yet so possible connections, the hauntings as gentle as a baby's breath, the life we take for granted, the endless possibilities and, last but not least, the beautiful nature of British Columbia. All written with such tenderness and such beautiful poetic language. It is a joy to read.
And you know what I loved loved loved most? The migration of some of the characters from my favourite "Station Eleven" to "The Glass Hotel". It gave me goosebumps! It is rarely possible for the book to shine so bright despite the shadow of its hit predecessor, but "The Glass Hotel" does shine, a small supernova in its own right.
One thing I regret - I have this in e-copy (where I could not flip through the pages a few chapters back... "Vincent in the Ocean"). I have both American and Canadian editions (that cover!) on their way to me... But somewhat delayed and I just could not wait.
I purchased it as I'd seen it recommended in so many publications and yes, the way it's written is beautiful, almost lyrical but it just didn't work for me.
It felt almost self published - the characters weren't well rounded enough, I couldn't picture them in my head at all and that for me is an important part of reading! It's a very meandering, melancholy tale and I admire anyone that can write a novel but I won't be hurrying to believe the hype next time...
Unnerving parallels in this book the story inspired by Bernie Madoff and a million other ponzi schemes that never work out well for the schemers or the investors perhaps bar one. We are drawn into this world of lives touching one another connections and a cataclysmic event that influences each characters life.
From Vincent and Paul and the theft of Vincent’s artistic videos to the visitation of guilt and parallel lives visions of people that have died. A constant sense of living on two planes being unable to distance the past from the present. This book is a fantastic journey into anyone’s life who has experienced trauma perhaps not a Ponzi scheme but the feeling that one is always close to losing everything and the dire consequences the ripple effect this has on those in involved.
This is a rich and complex novel about the choices we make in life and where they lead us; I loved reading about Vincent's life, and I especially loved reading about the titular Glass Hotel of the title. There's lots happening in this book; it deftly moves between different characters and their lives and weaves them all together so well. If you are a fan of her work I would recommend it