The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel is a novel about connections, guilt, and how the past bleeds into the present. One day at Hotel Caiette, a hotel on Vancouver Island designed so rich people can see the views without stepping outside, the bartender Vincent meets financier Jonathan Alkaitis who owns the hotel. Things suddenly change for her as she becomes part of his life, but his dealings are not all they seem. Also in the hotel bar at that time, her brother Paul is accused of writing a threatening message on the hotel window, and a shipping executive is disturbed by it. Their lives unfurl, together and alone, and their coming together at the hotel at that time becomes a lens for how theirs and others’ lives connect.

The narrative spans the 1990s to the future, moving between characters and foreshadowing or teasing events as the ghosts of the past haunt people. The atmosphere can be strangely eerie, whether on a remote ship, a strangely desolate hotel, or in the midst of finance in New York City, and it is this atmosphere and the mysteries with answers lurking not far from the surface which make the book an enjoyable read. At times the different narrative voices get confusing, but the book in general comes together well to form what is not quite a complete story told from different perspectives.

This is an intriguing book which leaves you still asking questions after it ends and wondering what it all means, a business scheme wrapped up in isolation and asking what is real. From the description, and indeed from the start of the novel, it can be hard to know what to expect, but it is worth giving The Glass Hotel a try as it keeps evolving as the narratives progress.