reading list

The Glass Hotel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mendel

 Title: The Glass Hotel

Author: Emily St. John Mendel

Publisher: Pan MacMillan, Picador

Published Date: August 6th 2020

Length: 302 pages

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Adult, Mystery Thriller

Rating: 4.25 /5

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 an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, 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 northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts. 


Thank you, NetGalley and Pan MacMillan for the copy!

This is the first book I have read by this author and yes, you can gasp away that I haven’t read the other book yet. I want to read it with a physical copy and some way or the other, that hasn’t happened yet. (insert shrug emoji)

I was not sure what to expect from this author or from this book if I am being honest and that might have made me experience much better than it could have been. The writing is good, the story-telling is very different but the show-stealing component remains her characters. Oh, her characters are so pathetic, and awful and absolutely scarily human. There’s never any doubt of it happening to actual people because it’s just written that well!

There’s something about the writing that makes this book feel like it’s magical despite it being based in something so human, it is sometimes a bit hard to read. It is a story of people being people. Good, bad and everything in between on a daily basis, it’s recognising that people make themselves feel better sometimes by fooling others or themselves. It is a bit upsetting and it is also a bit haunting but in the best way possible.

The setting is realistic and it follows a Ponzi scheme, it is told in vignettes rather than a linear timeline of plot evolving. There’s so much packed into this one without lengthening the novel that I am in awe, to be perfectly honest. It feels like we are looking into a parallel universe where a few people made the choices they made and then had a few regrets and wondered about ‘what if’s as you are wont to do.

I am not sure I am doing this book any justice but trust me, if you like the author’s writing then please, pick this up if you haven’t already! If you like characters feeling very real and very problematic because of it, then this is a book for you.


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