ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:THE NEW YORKER • NPR • TIME • THE WASHINGTON POST• ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY • AND MORE!“The perfect novel. . ....
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
THE NEW YORKER • NPR • TIME • THE WASHINGTON POST• ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY • AND MORE!
“The perfect novel. . . . Freshly mysterious.” —The Washington Post
From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, 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.
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.
“Compulsively readable.” —Chicago Review of Books
From the book
Leon Prevant left the lobby at four-thirty a.m., climbed the stairs to his room, and crept into the bed, where his wife was sleeping. Marie didn't wake up. He'd purposefully drunk one whiskey too many with the thought that this might make it possible to fall asleep, but it was as if the graffiti had opened a crack in the night, through which all his fears flooded in. If pressed he might have admitted to Marie that he was worried about money, but worried wasn't strong enough. Leon was afraid.
A colleague had told him this place was extraordinary, so he'd booked an extremely expensive room as an anniversary surprise for his wife. His colleague was right, he'd decided immediately. There were fishing and kayaking expeditions, guided hikes into wilderness, live music in the lobby, spectacular food, a wooded path that opened into a forest glade with an outdoor bar and lanterns hung from trees, a heated pool overlooking the tranquil waters of the sound.
"It's heavenly," Marie said on their first night.
"I'm inclined to agree."
He'd sprung for a room with a hot tub on the terrace, and that first night they were out there for at least an hour, sipping champagne with a cool breeze in their faces, the sun setting over the water in a postcard kind of way. He kissed her and tried to convince himself to relax. But relaxation was difficult, because a week after he'd booked this extravagant room and told his wife about it, he'd begun to hear rumors of a pending merger.
Leon had survived two mergers and a reorganization, but when he heard the first whispers of this latest restructuring, he was struck by a certainty so strong that it felt like true knowledge: he was going to lose his job. He was fifty-eight years old. He was senior enough to be expensive, and close enough to retirement to be let go without weighing too heavily on anyone's conscience. There was no part of his job that couldn't be performed by younger executives who made less money than he did. Since hearing of the merger he'd lived whole hours without thinking about it, but the nights were harder than the days. He and Marie had just bought a house in South Florida, which they planned to rent out until he retired, with the idea of eventually fleeing New York winters and New York taxes. This seemed to him to be a new beginning, but they'd spent more money on the house than they'd meant to, he had never been very good at saving, and he was aware that he had much less in his retirement accounts than he should. It was six-thirty in the morning before he fell into a fitful sleep.
When Walter returned to the lobby the following evening, Leon Prevant was eating dinner at the bar with Jonathan Alkaitis. They'd met a little earlier, in what seemed at the time like a coincidental manner and seemed later like a trap. Leon had been at the bar, eating a salmon burger, alone because Marie was lying down upstairs with a headache. Alkaitis, who was drinking a pint of Guinness two stools down, struck up a conversation with the bartender and then expanded the conversation to include Leon. They were talking about Caiette, which, as it happened, Jonathan Alkaitis knew something about. "I actually own this property," he said to Leon, almost apologetically. "It's hard to get to, but that's what I like about it."
"I think I know what you mean," Leon said. He was always looking for conversations, and it was a pleasure to think about something—anything!—other than financial insolvency and unemployment for a moment. "Do you own other hotels?"
"Just the one. I mostly work in finance." Alkaitis had a couple of businesses in New York, he said,...
About the Author-
- EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL's four previous novels include Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award and has been translated into 32 languages. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Starred review from November 11, 2019
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. Agent: Katherine Fausset, Curtis Brown, Ltd.
December 15, 2019
A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters. How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure. A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.
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Starred review from January 1, 2020
Mandel follows her breakout dystopian hit, Station Eleven (2014), with another tale of wanderers whose fates are interconnected, this time by a Ponzi scheme rather than the demise of most of the world's population. Beautiful young bartender Vincent Smith (named for poet Edna St. Vincent Millay) has no illusions about the relationship she enters into with Jonathan Alkaitis, an uber-wealthy investor more than twice her age. Vincent leaves her job at the remote Hotel Caiette to move into Jonathan's mansion in Connecticut and pretend to be his wife, attending dinners with his investors. Mandel reveals early on that Jonathan's business dealings aren't above board, but even with this information front and center, she still manages to build nail-biting tension as things start to go wrong for Jonathan and his associates. Mandel weaves an intricate spider web of a story, connecting the people whom Jonathan and Vincent's lives touch and irrevocably change, from Vincent's feckless brother to the small group of colleagues abetting Jonathan's scheme to the people whose fortunes are decimated by Jonathan's machinations. A gorgeously rendered tragedy.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The phenomenal success of Station Eleven has set high expectations for Mandel's new novel, and both books been optioned for television series.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)
Starred review from February 1, 2020
This latest novel from the author of the hugely successful Station Eleven forgoes a postapocalyptic vision for something far scarier--the bottomless insecurity of contemporary life. One of Mandel's main characters, a twentysomething young woman from British Columbia with the unusual name of Vincent, is orphaned and unmoored. Through a bartending job at a remote destination hotel off Vancouver Island, she meets and takes up with Jonathan Alkaitis, a Bernie Madoff-like character who owns the hotel. Posing as his wife in New York, Vincent has few illusions about the world of money in which she finds herself. When Alkaitis's Ponzi scheme collapses, she walks away initially unscathed and signs on as a cook on a container ship. And that's only one thread in the plot; numerous characters slip in and out of this affluent world, wrestling with financial loss, drug addiction, or sibling guilt. We even find a couple of characters from Station Eleven, alive and well and in the shipping business. VERDICT Highly recommended; with superb writing and an intricately connected plot that ticks along like clockwork, Mandel offers an unnerving critique of the twinned modern plagues of income inequality and cynical opportunism. [See Prepub Alert, 9/9/19.]--Reba Leiding, emerita, James Madison Univ. Lib., Harrisonburg, VA
Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
October 1, 2019
At the upscale glass-and-cedar Hotel Caiette, on an island in British Columbia, bartender Vincent becomes involved with hotel owner Jonathan Alkaitis even as Vincent's half-brother leaves a note on a window advising, "Why don't you swallow broken glass." The message shatters an executive for the shipping company Neptune-Avramidis. Years later, Vincent vanishes from a Neptune-Avramidis cargo ship even as a Ponzi scheme sends several fortunes to the bottom of the ocean. Mandel's next bright puzzler after Station Eleven, a National Book Award finalist and Arthur C. Clarke Award winner.
Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
- Ruth Franklin, The Atlantic "A careful, damning study of the forms of disaster humanity brings down on itself... In a world where rolling disasters fade into one another, it's a reminder that Mandel wants to lurch us out of the tedium."
- Booklist, starred "The Glass Hotel will haunt you... Mandel delicately illuminates the devastation wreaked on the fraud's victims while brilliantly teasing out the hairsbreadth moments in which a person can seamlessly slide into moral corruption... The Glass Hotel isn't so much plot driven as it is coiled--a taut braid of lives undone by Alkaitis' and others' grifts... negotiating slippery ethics and questionable compromises, and the liminal space between innocence and treachery."
- Publishers Weekly, starred "Deeply imagined, philosophically profound... The Glass Hotel moves forward propulsively, its characters continually on the run... Richly satisfying... The Glass Hotel is ultimately as immersive a reading experience as its predecessor [Station Eleven], finding all the necessary imaginative depth within the more realistic confines of its world... Revolutionary."
PublisherKnopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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