You may be wondering ifThe Glass Hotelis anything like Emily St John Mandel s previous novel Station Eleven The answer is no AND yes.Don t get me wrong, The Glass Hotel is a very different kind of book Its setting is realistic, not speculative In place of Station Eleven s focus on art Shakespeare, music, comics there is filthy lucre specifically a Ponzi scheme bearing a striking resemblance to Bernie Madoff s massive fraud The romanticism of Station Eleven its starlit gauziness and heady atmosphere, beauty seen in a wildflower by the side of a highway clogged with rusted automobile carcasses is dialled down here Mandel s writing is as evocative as ever, but her emphasis has shifted In this novel full of morally questionable individuals, there aren t as many pinpricks of light And yet common threads do emerge Both books have a diffuse cast of characters both narratives skip forwards and backwards, orbiting a central catastrophic worldwide event that forever bisects life into a before and an after Station Eleven s was a flu pandemic, The Glass Hotel s is the 2008 financial crisis, which triggers the Ponzi scheme s collapse In both, the fallout from the singular event claims lives, and those that do survive are set to wandering.There are direct links too Characters from the earlier book reappear here, and the idea of parallel universes first raised in Station Eleven when characters imaginea universe in which civilization hadn t been so brutally interruptedalso recurs Mandel ties this to her theme of regret the characters rueful if only thinking manifests as reverberations between alternate realities, the ghost versions of lives that might have been, had they made different choices It s as if Station Eleven which had the feeling of a dream all along is Oz and The Glass Hotel is Kansas From parallel worlds arise parallel tales, different tonally but at heart, similar compositions Mandel s sensitive characterisations, meticulous layers, and musings on loss, regret and the frangibility of life are all here It s just a little less magical 4 stars. 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 ItVincent 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 I m not usually attracted to books that feature financial elements, but in this case I made an exception Simply because I love how this author writes and the way she puts together a story I m so glad I went with my intuition, which shows sometimes you just need to trust a favored author.Although this is about a Ponzi scheme, it is so much It is the story of Vincent, a female, named after Edna St Vincent Milay , and she is a fasinating character A sort of chameleon, trying to find her way through life after the death of her mother Jonathan is the initiator of the Ponzi scheme, something that will effect many lives, including Vincents.The writing is equisite, the story clips along at a steady pace and i found it quite addicting It is at heart the story of the haves and have nots, unreal monetary expectations Con men and those who allow themselves to be conned The choices one makes, where one mistake can equivocally change ones fate The connections one makes and those that just seem to happen Alternate realities, where one sees different choices played out Do you think it possible for one to actually see their consciences become real Something to ponder.I thought this was a terrific and very different story. It must be incredibly difficult for a writer to follow a monster hit like Station Eleven Everyone, it seems, is dying to read The Glass Hotel, and that includes me I normally think it s a little obnoxious to review an advance copy 6 months before the book s publication, but I simply could not wait to dive into this one So I will get this out of the way first The Glass Hotel is not post apocalyptic, it s not dystopian, it s straight literary fiction which is not to say that it doesn t have its little moments of strangeness This novel may not pack the same plot driven punch as its predecessor, but in the end I was glad of that The simpler premise allows the beauty and brilliance of the author s writing to take centre stage.The Glass Hotel is set between the mid 1990s and the late 2010s, and it s about a Ponzi scheme I have to admit I wasn t really clear on what a Ponzi scheme is, other than being a scam basically, it describes a situation in which investors are paid fake profits using funds gathered from other investors The progenitor of the scheme in this book is a man called Jonathan Alkaitis, but the story isn t really or isn t only about him If there s a main character, it s his much younger partner, Vincent who, despite the name, is a woman The two of them meet in the bar of the Hotel Caiette he s the owner, she s the bartender and Vincent, having grown up on a road with two dead ends , is carried off into a new, strange existence as his trophy wife She calls it the kingdom of money , and it is fated not to last.I have often seen The Glass Hotel described as a follow up to Station Eleven, which might have led some to presume it would be a sequel There is a link it features two Station Eleven characters Miranda and her boss Leon Prevant and though they don t play major roles, this is a clear indication that the two books are set in the same reality Elsewhere, however, there is a clever suggestion that a future in which the Georgia flu ravages society might just be a figment of another character s imagination This, in turn, ties in to the idea of the counterlife , a sort of parallel universe theory Jonathan uses as a coping strategy in prison All the while, ghosts flit back and forth in the margins.Something I loved about Station Eleven was Emily St John Mandel s ability to bring her characters to life very economically to make them feel like real people without the need for pages and pages of backstory The same principle applies here Each person in The Glass Hotel is so richly imagined, I could have read a whole book about any of them One of the things it does most effectively is to shine a spotlight on some of those affected by Jonathan s scheme you get a little window into how their lives will change, and these sketches are all the effective for their brevity.I also loved the organic nature of the characters interactions with each other Their lives intersect in ways that reminded me of Jennifer Egan s A Visit from the Goon Squad It was disconcerting to go back to my original review of Station Eleven and find I compared that to A Visit from the Goon Squad as well I honestly had no memory of doing so, but I guess the connection was lurking around my subconscious somewhere I mention it because I like the synchronicity this little coincidence recurrence is exactly the sort of thing that would happen to a character in an Emily St John Mandel book.The Glass Hotel reeled me in quietly There are no big shocks or dramatic twists here, just thoughtful portraits of characters who feel very much like real people Also subtly brilliant illumination of the ways in which we all cross paths with others, how we remember people or create myths around them, or forget them , how it s possible to influence someone s journey with the lightest touch Everyday magic I ve been meaning to read the author s earlier work for years, and after this, maybe I ll finally get round to it I want to spend time in the worlds she creates.I received an advance review copy of The Glass Hotel from the publisher through Edelweiss.TinyLetter Twitter Instagram Tumblr This sounds like absolutely everything. Anyone who has read Station Eleven or in fact any of the author s previous novels will know that Mandel writes thoughtful and addictive stories Her prose doesn t shout a story at you, it s far subtle than that Instead you re likely to be taken through a gentle maze of events that eventually knit together to deliver a gut punch This book starts with what appears to be a scene of Vincent s final moments after falling off a ship One of those thoughts is a wish to see her brother Quickly the time frame changes and we re introduced to to Paul, a dropout from the University of Toronto where he was studying finance Paul s real interest is music but for reasons that will become apparent later he ended up studying a subject he really had no interest in Paul, we learn, has a half sister called Vincent The story floats about in both time and place The time element runs from the early 1990 s to close to the present day and the places are principally British Columbia and Manhattan When we next come across Vincent and Paul they are both working at a luxury hotel situated at the most northerly tip of Vancouver Island One night a lone guest spots a disturbing message scrawled on the large glass window of the lounge Later that same night Vincent, who runs the bar, meets the rich owner of the hotel and a strange deal is struck between the two We ll make sense of these two events, but not yet, not for some time There are essentially two threads at play the story of Vincent and of Paul, of their early life and of how their lives play out and then, as the cast expands, the impact of a Ponzi Scheme on its investors as it all goes belly up and their money is lost Anyone familiar with the notorious Bernie Madoff investment scandal will have a sense of just how totally investors in this type of full on con can be financially ruined And interestingly a couple of characters we meet along the way featured in the aforementioned Station Eleven things turn out differently for Miranda Carroll and Leon Prevant in this book So what do we have here, a Sliding Doors style set up in which a very different life for this pair plays out It s a quirky element in this intriguing piece I love the way the story is put together After each player is introduced we lose sight of them for a while, only to catch up with them later Each is deftly drawn and sympathetically brought to life and I found myself caring for all of them, even the bad guy at the centre of the fraud The time shifts are also brilliantly effective and allow the story to play out in a surprising but highly effective way There are ghosts here too and that s not something I m usually accepting of in any tale, but strangely they work here they provide a linkage and ultimately a wholeness to the story that might not otherwise be there This book is due to be published in March 2020, some six months from now and I m sure it will find many, many admirers I absolutely loved it I finished reading it a couple of days ago but it s taken me a little while to clear my mind and to capture my thoughts on it in truth, it s been deeply embedded in my head from the first day I started it My sincere thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing a hcopy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You should eat broken glass The sentence above, a remote island hotel, a Ponzi scheme, a container ship, a lost young woman, and a ghostly presence provide the framework for this masterful novel about greed, guilt, ambition, and love The writing is languid and dreamy yet still page turning as the stories of the interconnected characters fold back upon themselves This is a mesmerizing, unearthly novel with characters throwing stones and crossing lines Don t miss it. At first, I found the storyline all over the place and I felt a bit baffled because I couldn t see where it was heading It jumped from timeline to timeline and character to character in a seemingly random and disconnected fashion and I couldn t join the dots Then it all began to slot into place and I saw the reasoning and then I was able to settle into enjoying the book The 5 star luxury Glass Hotel was in Caiette, a small and remote part of Vancouver Island It was owned by super wealthy Jonathan Alkaitis and part of the story was about his Ponzi scheme but also was about his wife Vincent who disappeared from the deck of the ship Neptune Cumberland The story started with this and ended with it so the beginning is literally the end and I liked this circular approach The storylines in the novel jump around from the 1990 s to 2029 as we follow the disastrous fall of the house of Alkaitis I thought the financial sections about the scheme were really interesting and I thought the air of panic was really well captured although there was some relief from Jonathan that the deception was over I found his thoughts on the fraud fascinating as he suggested that his investors must have known as no one got returns as they did unless it was too good to be true Offloading blame Some truth or delusion Were they all deluded I loved the ghostly element to the book and thought that was very clever as characters who were dead appeared to the living or was it their guilty conscience The book has a number of allegorical elements and the allegory I liked the best was of the swan who should have flown south but stayed in the water too long and froze which was clearly what Jonathan did He should have bailed long before he was unmasked and so he too froze in the water I liked Jonathan s Counterlife and Non Counterlife which he used to escape the day to day reality of being caught and it looked at an alternate reality I also very much liked the character of pragmatic Vincent, the other characters were not so likeable but they were well depicted However, I never entirely got to grips with the jumping around in time and the tangential elements of the story which I found irritating Overall, though, a very intriguing book which was very well written and one I will remember Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan McMillan for the ARC. This is a new author for me, finding a new author is very exciting and I couldn t wait to start this book The Glass Hotel is on Vancouver Island, only accessible by boat A luxury 5 star hotel owned by Jonathon Alkatis who works in finance.When Jonathon passes a card with his tip to Vincent the bartender it s a new beginning for as his trophy wife, leading to money and entitlement Thirteen years later Vincent disappears off the deck of the Neptune Avramidis ship Was it an accident or deliberate This book in set in alternative timelines starting from 1999.Beautifully written and very addictive I was fascinated with the Ponzi scheme and never realised how interesting they are.Will definitely read Station Eleven Thank you for my copy in exchange for a review. There are so many ways to haunt a person, or a life Emily St John Mandel seems to have two particular talents probably a lot , but these two stand out to me She has a remarkable way to tell a story by jumping around in time and yet having it all make sense She seems to be able to put the pieces together so that the reveals from the past or future come at exactly the right point to avoid the reader being either frustrated or confused It is a great skill, I think, to be able to write passages that the reader has known about for a while and yet are still exciting to read because the reader has been looking forward to getting the detail Secondly, she doesn t need many words to bring a character to life and she seems to get under the skin of her characters very quickly Crucially, she takes her reader with her.I have read all four previous novels by this author, but I think this is probably my favourite of the five There is something about the writing in this book that makes it subtle, mature, insightful.Plus, in this novel, there is the added excitement of discovering two characters from the author s best known work Station Eleven making a re appearance It suggests that like David Mitchell , Mandel is setting books in a self contained universe Except Except for the fact that here one character imagines a world where Georgian flu was not contained but ran rampant round the world destroying civilisation That, of course, is the pandemic that drive the plot in Station Eleven So, we have the plot of one book being imagined as a possible alternate reality in this book and with characters bleeding over between the books.But this idea of characters appearing in worlds where they might not be supposed to be is actually a key idea throughout this new novel We begin at the end as Vincent unusual name for a girl falls off a ship to her death Then we skip back a couple of decades to meet Paul, an aspiring musician with a drug problem After some bad tablets, he has an even serious, if different, drug problem Then the core of the novel is the story of the collapse of a Ponzi scheme in 2008 we know the man at the centre of this as Jonathan Alkaitis, but the crime is modelled on Bernard L Madoff s Ponzi scheme which collapsed at exactly this time.We follow Vincent, Paul and Jonathan, along with a host of other characters, as their lives connect and influence each others, or as their actions impact on others I don t want to give the plot away a huge part of the fun in reading this book is seeing how all the pieces gradually pull together and I would not want to spoil that But one thing many of the characters do often is imagine alternate realities , the way life might have been as with the Georgian flu epidemic mentioned above and, at times, see people who should not be where they are seen Are these characters ghosts, are they just products of guilty consciences, are they visitors from an alternate reality The novel never strays into science fiction or fantasy, but it also never seeks to particularly resolve that question this, it seems, is an exercise for the reader One way or another, our protagonists are haunted by lives they might have lived or by lives they lost somewhere along the way.At the end of the novel, most of the pieces are in place I find myself pleased rather than frustrated at any loose ends I want to spend time with these characters thinking about what happened to them As with this author s other books, the pieces don t come at you in the order you expect But, also as in this author s other books, the pieces are clearly organised to come in a very clever and specific order and to be the right size and shape to fill exactly the hole you as a reader were waiting to be filled at that point I have finished every one of Emily St John Mandel s book full of admiration for the way she tells a story It s a wonderful approach to storytelling and here her writing seems to have moved up a gear, too, making this a thoroughly enjoyable book to read.My thanks to Pan Macmillan, via NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for this honest review.