CBR BINGO: Verse Square (BINGO! Rec’d to Time)
(This book is part of the “Mandelverse” along with Station Eleven and Glass Hotel: pandemics, Shakespeare, violins, stories, airports, and heartbreaking connections between seemingly disparate characters.)
I’m so late to the party on this one, but I’ll add mine to the pile of reviews.
This small little novel holds four big stories spanning just as many centuries. In the early 20th century, a young man whose brother will inherit the family estate in England is unceremoniously sent to Canada after offering honest but unpopular opinions at the family dinner table. A little girl in the 1990’s videotapes a walk in the Canadian wilderness on a summer family vacation. On the verge of a pandemic in 2203, an author from a moon colony is on a book tour across Earth.
The young man, little girl, and author all experience a strange occurrence at one moment in their lives: the world suddenly goes black and is replaced by flashes of another place where violin music is interrupted by a loud booming sound. It begins and ends quickly and never happens again.
In the 2400s, a hotel detective living on a moon colony is yearning for something more out of life. Putting his almost-finished criminology degree to work, he begins investigating this strange occurrence for a secretive government institution.
Okay. Here is where I confess that while I was reading the book, I had a pesky little voice inside my head that kept asking “Is this just a weird short fiction rewrite of Station 11?” Don’t get me wrong, I was invested in the characters and I love Mandel’s almost melodic and certainly melancholic writing style. The comparison between Sea and Station Eleven was just easy to make and kind of niggled at me a bit.
What got me, in the end, is that heartbreaking connection between seemingly disparate characters. I live for that in my reading life. It’s the Dickens lover in me. Mandel is a true story weaver. The beauty of the last stitch that brings the whole tapestry together? LOVE LOVE LOVE that.