A Two-Minute Book Review
Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
I struggle to capture the haunting beauty of Mandel’s writing adequately. I enjoyed Station Eleven (I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction) and loved Glass Hotel (though I couldn’t tell you anything about it other than the characters were fascinating.)
SEA OF TRANQUILITY is a tricky story well executed. Mandel weaves multiple storylines and timeframes into a cohesive and gorgeous whole, managing to tell a 500-page novel in 255. Her characters were well defined, and the ending was tidy and satisfying.
From the publisher: The award-winning, best-selling author of STATION ELEVEN and THE GLASS HOTEL returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.
My favorite section was about Olive Llewellyn, who wrote a novel about a (fictional) pandemic and is on a book tour when an actual pandemic strikes. Olive’s thoughts and feelings must certainly mirror Mandel’s. I can’t imagine how many pandemic questions she must have faced in 2020, six years after she wrote about one in STATION ELEVEN.
This novel is by far my favorite by Mandel. I recommend reading Glass Hotel first for deeper context, but it’s not necessary to enjoy this work as a standalone.
I read this Random House Audio Audiobook as a library loan from my local library via the Libby App. It treated me to four different narrators (John Lee, Dylan Moore, Arthur Morey, and Kirsten Potter), which helped me keep track of the overlapping timelines and POVs.