The Glass Hotel follows Paul and Vincent, brother and half sister, from their time as teenagers through to adulthood. Vincent and Paul didn’t have the easiest teenage years. Vincent lost her mother, and suffered from years of resentment from Paul for the collapse of his parent’s marriage. Both find themselves back living and working together at the Hotel Caiette as adults and this is where the drama really begins.
A calculated event pulls the siblings apart and their lives take very different paths. Vincent finds herself in a complicated relationship, whereas Paul takes a new path in his career. The recession hits and Emily St John Mandel brings the full impact of this to her characters. Lives are changed irreversibly by the hotel owner’s deception, and each are left to pick up the pieces as a result. Vincent’s partner, an old friend of his, and his employees all being different perspectives to the central story.
Although the book begins as Paul’s story, I really felt this book was owned by Vincent. She shone through as a strong and determined woman who would not let her past drag her down. She was looking for a purpose in life, and I wonder if she was ever really satisfied with how things turned out. I was also absorbed by the perspective of the hotel owner and his fate at the end. I felt the psychological impact of what he had done was explored in more detail than I would have expected, and this gave a satisfying, open ended conclusion.
One theme throughout the book is a re-telling fo the story after the fact, intertwined with extracts from the times themselves. This jumping through time to show different perspectives is seamless and adds depth to the story. The plot itself isn’t complex, but the way the reader is taken from character to character at various points makes the book feel like so much more than a combination of each individual thread.
The Glass Hotel is available on 6th August. You can pre-order the hardback version from here: Waterstones
I received my copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley.
View my reviews for other books by Emily St John Mandel here Emily St John Mandel