the next good book

Sea of Tranquility

By Emily St. John Mandel


255 pages

What’s it about?

Three different stories are interwoven in this slim novel.  At various points in time three distinct characters share the same strange experience.  We begin in British Columbia, in 1912, where Edwin St. Andrew has landed after being exiled from British society.  He walks into the woods one day and something happens that he can not make sense of. The next story takes us to the near future where a pandemic is just beginning on Earth.  We follow Olive Llewellyn who is touring with her new book and missing her family.  As she is walking through a transit station she has the same strange experience.  The last segment is set further into the future- in a colony built on the moon.  When Gasprey Roberts is hired to time travel (in order to look into this unusual anomaly) we find the thread that binds the novel together.

What did it make me think about?

What is the nature of time- of reality?

Should I read it?

This book was so good!  Emily St. John Mandel manages to keep each story interesting enough on it’s own to keep us turning the pages- and then she ties it all together in a masterful way.  My first dystopian novel was “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell (a book club choice- not mine) and I enjoyed it so much that I have gone on to read more and more books from this category.  The beauty of a book club is that they often open your eyes to novels you would never have chosen on your own.  This book would make for another good discussion.  In fact, I would love to go over the story just to see what I missed…. Two characters from “The Glass Hotel” make appearances in this novel as well.  For some it might be kind of fun to see if they can remember all the details from the author’s previous book.  For me- well, it usually just makes me worry about my mental capacities.


” ‘-and my point is, there’s always something. I think, as a species, we have a desire to believe that we’re living at the climax of the story. It’s a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we’re uniquely important, that we’re living at the end of history, that now, after all these millennia of false alarms, now is finally the worst that it’s ever been, that finally we have reached the end of the world.’ “

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