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Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mantel

Ms. St. John Mantel's first novel is about Lilia Albert. At seven, Lilia Albert is visted by her father, a man that she hasn't seen in about one year, and taken by him from her rural Canadian home in the middle of the night. As a result, she never sees her mother or brother, with whom she already lives, again. Instead her father, who has his own money, moves her from one American city to another, sometimes not spending more than a few hours or a night in one place. Along the way, he provides for Lilia's education - she mostly learns languages while he's driving, upon which she is quizzed later on.

At the beginning of the novel, though, we know none of this. We meet Lilia as a twenty something dishwasher who is living in New York City - Brooklyn to be exact - and she is dating a young graduated student named Eli. Eli is in love with her so when Lilia leaves him somewhat unceremoniously as only she can, his spirit is utterly ravaged and he is left devastated. As Eli begins to search for her, he learns about Lilia and we learn about her at the same time, as the story is told through the alternating viewpoints of a private investigator (hired by Lilia's mother to find her), Eli, and the private investigator's daughter, who feels and actually is utterly neglected by her father's obssession in finding Lilia.

I loved this book - it was a wonderfuly, quirky and deep novel that kept me reading. I really wanted to learn all that I could about Lilia - she was so mysterious - I wanted to know why she did what she did and where she had come from and why she had been taken by her absentee father. Nothing seemed to be revealed at once and making revelations in a manner like pulling back onion peels also made this book really, really special.

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  1. Thanks for the lovely review! I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

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