This book is highly readable. While it may appear that I am damning with faint praise, that is not my intention. This book is readable because, despite being filled with topics and characters that do not automatically appeal to me, I was interested and invested from page one. Had this book not been written by Emily St. John Mandel I probably would have glanced at the dust jacket and gone on my merry way, but since it was written by her I knew that I had to read it- no matter the topic or themes.
Dreary cities mix with ethereal Canadian wilderness while we whirl about in a classical Greek tragedy around money, trust, grief, and guilt. Like Station Eleven it is difficult to pinpoint a main character, but we do hear more exposition from a chorus of those both deeply and fleetingly invested along the way. Invested is the key word here, as our crew is assembled around a plot of emotional and financial ruin. Guilt and grief often appear and reappear disguised as each other, and the interconnected lives and stories within blur between accomplices, victims, enablers, and survivors.
Where Station Eleven thrived in community and hope, The Glass Hotel illustrates the need to be on ones own; to face the world from a protective wall of glass. To see out, but to keep others from coming in.
“Give me quiet, he thought, give me forests and ocean and no roads. Give me the walk to the village through the woods in summer, give me the sound of wind in cedar branches, give me mist rising over the water, give me the view of green branches from my bathtub in the mornings. Give me a place with no people in it, because I will never fully trust another person again.”
I wanted to take this slowly; to simmer in the roiling trouble and to take my time in guessing the connections and desires of the characters within, but St. John Mandel is just too good and I had to devour it; it was gone in two sittings, the last of which kept me up well into the early hours of today. I, like many of the characters within The Glass Hotel, could not stop myself.
I very much look forward to our upcoming book club discussion; I read this with the Station Eleven questions fresh in my mind and a need to connect, connect, connect.