So, I am one of those heathens that read Station Eleven and didn’t love it.
There are dozens of us. DOZENS!
But I liked it well enough, I guess (?), to want to read Mandel’s follow-up, The Glass Hotel.
It’s hard to summarise the plot of this book, as it is kind of a meandering mess. We meet lots of people, they are somehow interconnected, things happen. Let me pick one person, who I _think_ is supposed to be the protagonist: Vincent.
The book starts with Vincent, who by the way is a woman (which I thought was just a gimmick at first but we come to understand why Mandel picked the name later on), falling into the sea. We are led to believe she drowns. Who is she? How did she get there? Was she pushed, was it an accident or was it suicide? It’s an interesting enough hook that, together with how effortlessly readable the language is, keeps you reading, despite the abrupt change of subject a couple of pages later.
Nothing much happens after that. Actually, scratch that. A lot happens, including
sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll a Ponzi scheme, shipping companies, family drama and the titular hotel, until we finally get to find out how Vincent ended up falling into the sea. But we never linger on any specific event or character. Because of this, nothing that does happen matters, because we never get the chance to invest emotionally in any of it. The people in the story are interchangeable, dispensable, lacking a voice of their own.
Once you’ve connected all the puzzle pieces, the whole picture doesn’t feel so disjointed anymore, but the colours are muted and dull. I wish Mandel would have picked _one_ thread and followed it all the way, instead of trying to make a sweater out of yarn scraps – no matter how pretty the scraps are. She is obviously a very talented writer and this book had a lot of potential, but even though it kept me turning the pages, it never really took off for me.