Saturday 17 September 2022


>> Read all Stella's reviews.


Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel  {Reviewed by STELLA}
Emily St John Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility is a book to be lost in. It’s a book about time, living and loving. Superbly constructed, it stretches from 1912 to 2401; from the wildness of Vancouver to a moon colony of the future. A remittance man, Edwin St.John St.Andrew, is sent abroad. He’s completely at sea in this new world — he has no appetite for work nor connection — and makes a haphazard journey to a remote settlement on a whim. Here, he has an odd experience which leaves him shaken. He will return to England only to find himself derailed in the trenches of the First World War and later struck down by the flu pandemic. It’s 2020 and Mirella (some readers will remember her from The Glass Hotel) is searching for her friend Vincent (who has disappeared). She attends a concert by Vincent’s brother Paul and afterwards waits for him to appear, along with two music fans at the backstage door. It’s here, on the eve of our current pandemic, that she discovers that Vincent has drowned at sea. Yet it is an art video that Vincent had recorded and been used in Paul’s performance which is at the centre of the conversation for one of the music fans. The film is odd — recounting an unworldly experience in the Vancouver forest. A short clip — erratic and strangely out of place, out of time. It’s 2203 and Olive Llewellyn, author, is on a book tour of Earth. She lives on Moon Colony Two and is feeling bereft — missing her husband and daughter. It’s a gruelling schedule of talks, interviews and same-same hotel rooms; and, if this wasn’t enough, there’s a new virus on the loose. Her bestselling book, Marienbad is about a pandemic. Within its pages is a description of a strange occurrence which takes place in a railway station. When an interviewer questions her about this passage, she’s happy to talk about it, as long it is off the record. It’s 2401, and detective Gaspery-Jacques Roberts from the Night City has been hired to investigate an anomaly in time. Drawing on his experiences and the book, Marienbad, and finding connections between the aforementioned times and people, will lead him to a place where he will make a decision that may have disruptive consequences. A decision which will cause upheaval. Emily St.John Mandel is deft in her writing, keeping the threads of time and the story moving across and around themselves without losing the reader, and making the knots — the connections — at just the right time to engage and delight intellect and curiosity. Moving through time and into the future makes this novel an unlikely contender to be a book of our time, but in so many ways it is. Clever, fascinating, reflective and unsettling, it’s a tender shout-out to humanity. 

No comments:

Post a Comment