Three Wonderful Reads for A Grey February
The Glass Hotel - By Emily St. John Mandel
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue - By V.E. Schwab
Grown Ups - By Marian Keyes
The Glass Hotel
By: Emily St. John Mandel
I was not very psyched about reading this book. In fact, I had it on my bedside table for months but every time I picked it up and read the description it just didn’t appeal to me. I asked my friend, who I often share book titles with, and she didn’t seem enthused by it so I left it there for months. Until one day, something about it called to me and I picked it up.
I don’t think the description of this book does it justice. The story of Vincent, a young Canadian woman who somehow “escapes” her life of bartending at The Glass Hotel, in Caiette (Bristish Columbia), to marry its owner, Jonathan Alkatis. Jonathan is a widower, and he is looking for a companion. He doesn’t need to fall in love again, Jonathan has already been married to the love of his life, but she died and now he is alone. He decides to proposition Vincent because she is young, beautiful, and seems to be an impressive and likeable person. That was just who he needed by his side, for his life, for his business, and for his image.
Jonathan is running one of the largest international Ponzi schemes. But this book isn’t just about Vincent and Jonathan. It’s about Vincent’s brother, Paul, who is introduced right at the beginning of the book. Paul is a lost soul, trying to figure out his life, barely recovering from a drug addiction, and trying to get through college. Paul consistently makes bad decisions that get him into trouble and contribute to his deteriorating life. While Paul is not running anything like a Ponzi scheme, he is also not an honest man. He has been responsible for the death of another man and he even achieves some fame as an artist showcasing art that he has stolen from someone else.
This is also the story of the caretaker of The Glass Hotel, Walter. Walter was originally the night manager of the hotel, but after Jonathan goes to prison for his crimes, he is left in charge of the abandoned hotel. Walter is just one of the many people left behind after Jonathan goes to jail and his empire crumbles. This is the story of the many victims of the Ponzi scheme, of the employees of the Ponzi scheme, and it is an even bigger story about life and how we choose to live it. Do we choose to live an honest and honorary life, or do we choose to do whatever it takes to achieve fame and fortune, to be dishonest and dishonorable? This novel is a story about responsibility, culpability, and consequences.
It is often described by critics as a Ghost Story, meaning a story about people who are living lives that they never intended. Their lives are haunted by the things they wished or didn’t wish to happen in life. It is a book with many different characters and yet somehow, they are all connected in some way. There is nothing I love more than a book that ties all the characters and stories up into a nice little bow.
I really loved this book and it will definitely keep you thinking long after you’re done. The TV adaptation of The Glass Hotel is currently in the works. The author said parts of the plot will be different but the main points are more or less the same. That will definitely be something to look forward to!
The Glass Hotel
By: Emily St. John Mandel ****
By: Marian Keyes
The cover of this book says it all. It’s a very simple grey cover with a drawing of a child on the ground either having a huge tantrum or simply posed in surrender. This cover perfectly described how I was feeling at the moment I picked it up! Right now life feels very complicated and sometimes messy, and this book will make you laugh while also dealing with some difficult real life issues. If you can’t laugh about the ridiculousness of our messy lives, how else do we get through these times. I need to know that other people are as messy and complicated as me because things to me seem so out of control right now with no end in sight.
Marian Keyes does a great job showing us how ridiculous and thorny life can be, especially when you have a large family. This is the story of the Casey family, three brothers and their wives and kids all grappling with their own “stuff” while trying to figure out the best way to move forward.
Th eldest brother is Johnny Casey who is married to Jessie. They are owners of a fabulous exotic food store with several locations throughout Ireland. They found love after Jessie’s first husband, who also happened to be Johnny’s best friend, died suddenly. Jessie had two children from her previous marriage and now added three more with Johnny. Their family is large, their spending is huge, and they seem a little bit in over their heads.
The middle brother is Ed Casey, who is married to Cara. Ed and Cara have two boys and Cara works as a Concierge at a 5-star hotel in Dublin. Cara is dealing with body image issues and it’s keeping her from enjoying her life and her wonderful family. Life takes a turn for her halfway through the novel and she realizes she must get things under control or she will lose everything.
And finally, there is Liam Casey, the baby of the family. Liam is divorced from his first wife and has two children with her. He had a brief stint with celebrity and has never really moved on since. He is married to his second wife, Nell, who is the epitome of cool and adored by the entire Casey clan.
Life seems to be running along smoothly, in the crazy Casey way, until one day Cara bumps her head hard and starts saying some really odd things. The Casey’s are gathered at Johnny and Jessie’s house and Cara just starts saying everything that may have been in her head but things she would never have the courage to say out loud. The things Cara says may have some truth to them and everyone around the table really start to think about them. Are any of them living the lives they actually wanted? Are they being honest and true to themselves? Cara’s accident brings all of these issues up to the surface and changes the future for all of the Casey’s.
I liked this book because it was funny and real, while dealing with some difficult topics. When life is unravelling before your eyes, how do you get up the courage to try and put everything back together?
Marian Keyes ***
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
By: V.E. Schwab
I saved the best for last. I absolutely loved this book. If you can get through a slow beginning, I promise you will not be disappointed.
Addie LaRue is a young woman born at the end of the 17th century in Villon, France. She lives with her mother and father and loves her life and her independence. But it is 17th century France and Addie’s life as she knows it is about to end. Her parents have promised her hand in marriage to a widower in town with his own children. Addie does not want to be married to someone she hasn’t chosen and would rather be able to live the life she chooses for herself.
Leaving her husband at the altar, Addie runs into the woods and makes a deal with the Devil. In exchange for her own life, where she can do and be whatever she wants, her soul will go to the Devil when she has finally had enough of life. She has sold her soul for a life of immortality. Her Devil becomes known to her as Luc and takes the form of a man she has dreamed about throughout her childhood. Someone very familiar yet so foreign to her.
What she doesn’t understand is that as part of this deal, she will never be remembered. The price of her freedom is her legacy. She will forever be forgotten by everyone she meets and she will live her life like a ghost flying through time, all alone.
Once Addie figures this all out, she finds little ways to make her mark in history. Addie LaRue can’t be remembered or photographed. She can’t utter the words of her own name and when she writes her name, it disappears. What she discovers though is that she can be drawn by another and she can be written about. Addie decides that she will go through her life influencing artists, and writers in order to leave some evidence in history of the life she has led.
Along the way, Luc (the Devil) comes and taunts her and tries to get her to give up her life. But strong and resilient Addie LaRue will not give in to him. Along the way, Luc introduces her to some of his other victims, some of them quite famous in history. What sets Addie apart from them is her resilience and her willingness to never give up. This is something that Luc has never seen before.
Eventually she makes her way to 2014, three hundred years after her deal was originally made. She walks into a bookstore and she meets a boy named Henry. After three hundred years, Henry remembers her. Addie Larue finally hears the words that she has yearned for, “I remember you”. These are the three words that will change her life forever. This is when the novel changes and you will try to figure out how the story will end while at the same time hoping that it will never end.
Why after 300 years, does Henry remember her? It seems that Addie has finally found her soulmate and a way to outsmart the Devil himself. She has a relationship with someone who wakes up each morning and remembers that her name is Addie LaRue. However, as we all know, the Devil is never outsmarted, so you wonder what is really going on. I urge you to pick up this book. It is unlike anything else I have read. This is a remarkable story about love, resilience, and survival and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The Invisible Life of Addie Larue
By V.E. Schwab