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Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel [in Booklist]

Emily St. John Mandel groupies will be especially tickled to discover Glass Hotel’s narrator Dylan Moore and Station Eleven’s Kirsten Potter are half the quartet that cipher her latest, in which four narrative strands connect almost five centuries.

In 1912, the youngest son of a wealthy British family is banished to Canada, where his life will hardly be fruitful, much less long. John Lee, who narrates Edwin, is the single miscast choice, his performance more sluggish than affecting for the initially 18-year-old voyager.

Arthur Morey helms the most future-forward character, Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, who, in 2401, is sent back to investigate three anomalies in the world’s timeline.

In between, Moore voices the Glass Hotel’s Smith siblings: brother Paul who in 2020 debuts a musical event that integrates a 1994 video shot by his then-13-year-old sister, Vincent, and is confronted by his late sister’s friend Mirella after the performance.

In 2023, second moon colony resident, Olive Llewellyn, is in the midst of her “last book tour on earth” for her novel Marienbad (clearly a nod to Marguerite Duras’ Last Year at Marienbad about time, memory, did-they-or-didn’t-they-meet-before); that Potter returns from Station Eleven to embody an author who’s written a novel about a fictional pandemic as another pandemic looms adds wink-winks of literary delight.

Kudos, too, to the production team for including that rare who-read-what attribution at recording’s end.

Review: modified from “Media,” Booklist, June 1, 2022

Readers: Adult

Published: 2022


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