The Glass HotelThe Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Published by Knopf Publishing Group on March 24, 2020
Pages: 302
View Title on Goodreads
Bantering Books Rating: five-stars

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events–a massive Ponzi scheme collapse 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 is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire 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, 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.

Bantering Books Review

So, total shocker – I loved The Glass Hotel more than I loved Station Eleven.

Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven sits high upon my favorites shelf. I sing its praises tirelessly to all who will listen, knowing the novel will one day be viewed as a dystopian, post-apocalyptic classic.

But The Glass Hotel is even better. And I say this as a reader who didn’t really want to read it, seeing as the story revolves around, of all things, a collapsing Ponzi scheme. Not the most interesting topic, is it?

I should’ve held tighter to my faith in St. John Mandel, though. Because the novel is, in fact, very interesting, and about so much more than a financial scam. It’s about greed and corruption, selfishness and dishonesty, alternate realities and ghosts. And how remorse for our actions can wear away the soul.

To read The Glass Hotel is to feel as if you’ve slipped into a dream. The story has this surreal, otherworldly aura, and St. John Mandel’s writing is hypnotic, lulling, and uniquely beautiful.

Though, a fair warning to those who do plan to read this extraordinary novel – its structure is rather scattered and formless. Much like Station Eleven, the narrative flits from character to character, back and forth in time, with the characters’ lives crisscrossing and diverging. Some may find the intentional chaos messy and confusing. I, however, found it to be brilliant.

The Glass Hotel is haunting. Gripping. Utterly unforgettable. And it has earned a place on my favorites shelf, where it will forever remain.

Scoot over, Station Eleven. Let’s make some room for The Glass Hotel.