The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel
The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 279
Source: provided by the publisher through NetGalley

The Short Version:
Ten years after high school the four members of a jazz quartet (The Lola Quartet) discover that their lives are still inextricably enmeshed

Why I Read It:
I found Emily St. John’s writing style intriguing and beautiful when I read her first book (The Last Night In Montreal) and while I didn’t love that book I liked her writing and wanted to read more. The hint of mystery in the synopsis of this one sounded like something I’d like.

The Book:
From the publisher

Gavin Sasaki is a promising young journalist in New York City, until he’s fired in disgrace following a series of unforgivable lapses in his work. It’s early 2009, and the world has gone dark very quickly. The economic collapse has turned an era that magazine headlines once heralded as the second gilded age into something that more closely resembles the Great Depression. The last thing Gavin wants to do is return to his hometown of Sebastian, Florida, but he’s in no position to refuse when he’s offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals in foreclosed homes. Also, Eilo has shown him a photo of a ten-yearold girl who could be homeless and in trouble. The little girl looks strikingly like Gavin and has the same last name as his high school girlfriend, Anna, from a decade ago. Gavin—a former jazz musician, a reluctant broker of foreclosed properties, obsessed with film noir and private detectives and otherwise at loose ends—begins his own private investigation in an effort to track down Anna and their apparent daughter who, it turns out, have been on the run all these years.

My Thoughts:
As with her first book I find myself struggling to decide what I think about this book. Emily St. John Mandel’s writing style is beautiful. She can create an intricate web of time and point of view shifts that make the narrative seem to swirl around a central point that is somewhere in the middle of the timeline of the story.

The writing had moments of beautifully written images and emotions but at the same time it all felt so distant to me. The characters are interesting and all of them are troubled but I just never found myself drawn in to any one of their stories.

I didn’t mind the continually shifting point of view or time in the story and in fact I thought that was the strong point of the book. The jumps in time frame from the events of ten years ago to those of today are handled in such a way that the real story is doled out like puzzle pieces that gradually connect themselves to form the full picture. I tend to enjoy stories that are told this way if they are well done and it’s definitely something that this author excels at. It was also the thing I liked about The Last Night in Montreal.

So in the end there were elements of this book that I liked a lot, but there were also elements that didn’t quite work for me.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5