When I found out that The Socratic Salon was going to be discussing Last Night in Montreal, I decided to jump on board. Station Eleven was one of my favourite books last year, and I was curious about her others. This seemed like a good chance to check one out.
The group who participated in the discussion seemed to be divided in their feelings for this book. Some thought is was okay but forgettable, while others really liked it. I was one of the ones who liked it. I thought it was well written with an appealing premise, and that the story unfolded in a way that kept me wondering and putting together the puzzle. Even though I did have most of it figured out before it was revealed, it didn’t seem to take away from my enjoyment of the story.
Lilia can’t remember what it’s like to stay put. For as long as she can remember, she’s been on the move. First with her father, who abducted her when she was 7; then on her own from the age of 16. But, despite the fact that they often felt as though someone was right behind them, she always felt safe.
He’d tell her anything about everything, except Before. He said it wasn’t really that important. He said they had to live in the present. Before was shorthand for the time before he started driving away with her, Before was a front lawn somewhere far to the north. More specifically, Before was her mother.
At 22, she finds herself in New York and in a relationship with Eli. When she leaves him, he doesn’t see it coming. When he looks back on it in his mind over and over again, he can’t think of anything that happened differently that day. But, he can’t help but wonder if there is anything he could have done to stop it.
He tried not to press her for too many details, about her scars or her family or anything else; she’d come from nowhere and seemed to have no past, and it seemed possible, even in the beginning when everything was easy, that the tenuous logic of her existence in his life might collapse under close examination. He didn’t want to know.
She had a specific way of living that seemed to him at once erratic and ritualistic and frequently caused him to wonder about her sanity…
A little while after Lilia has left, Eli gets a mysterious letter from Montreal. Hoping to convince Lilia to come back, he travels to Montreal to follow up on the message, and finds himself playing mind games with Michaela, who seems to know more about Lilia than Lilia does about herself. Will she ever be found? And, will there ever be a time when Lilia feels she can stay in one place?
Other Things I Liked:
- the relationship between Lilia and her father
- Simon – I would have liked to know more about him
- Michaela’s complex, messed-up character
- Eli’s boyish devotion
- reading about all the places Lilia had been
- Eli’s love of dead languages: “What every language comes down to, at the end, is one last speaker. One speaker of a language once shared by thousands or millions, marooned in a sea of Spanish or Mandarin or English. Perhaps loved by many but still profoundly alone; reluctantly fluent in the language of her grandchildren but unable to tell anyone her dreams. How much loss can be carried in a single human frame? Their last words hold entire civilizations.”
- The detective on her case; he ended up neglecting his own family to trail Lilia – what caused him to be so obsessed, especially when he had a family of his own?
- What would it be like to spend most of your childhood on the road; to know nothing different? I can’t decide if it would be fun or awful.
- “How deep in our genes is the longing for flight embedded?“
One more thing: The book covers in my post are in order of when they came out. Which do you like best, or think best suits the book?