The Glass Hotel

Emily St. John Mandel

fiction contemporary literary
challenging mysterious reflective slow-paced

320 pages | first published 2020

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star hotel on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby's glass wall: "Why don't you swallow broken glass." Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for Neptune-Avradimis, reads the words and orders a drink to calm down. Alkaitis, the owner of the hotel and a wealthy investment manager, arrives too late to read the threat, never knowing it was intended for him. He leaves Vincent a hundred dollar tip along with his business card, and a year later they are living together as husband and wife.

High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients' accounts. He holds the life savings of an artist named Olivia Collins, the fortunes of a Saudi prince and his extended family, and countless retirement funds, including Leon Prevant's. The collapse of the financial empire is as swift as it is devastating, obliterating fortunes and lives, while Vincent walks away into the night. Until, years later, she steps aboard a Neptune-Avramidis vessel, the Neptune Cumberland, and disappears from the ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.

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summary of 1877 ratings (see reviews)

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Moods

mysterious 70%
reflective 63%
dark 47%
emotional 34%
sad 29%
challenging 19%
tense 14%
adventurous 9%
hopeful 2%
informative 2%
inspiring 1%
relaxing 0%

Pace

medium 47%
slow 45%
fast 6%

Strong character development?

Yes: 55% | It's complicated: 28% | No: 15% | N/A: 0%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 44% | No: 42% | Yes: 12% | N/A: 1%

Diverse cast of characters?

No: 62% | Yes: 23% | It's complicated: 13% | N/A: 0%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 86% | It's complicated: 11% | N/A: 1% | No: 1%

Average rating

3.8