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

by Emily St. John Mandel

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131None95,689 (3.58)20
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  1. 00
    Follow Her Home by Steph Cha (sduff222)
  2. 00
    Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel (LynnB)
  3. 00
    Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (baystateRA)
    baystateRA: Similar tone of underlying tension in tangentially connected stories. Both excellent!
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
The title of The Lola Quartet references a musical group in an arts-oriented high school in the small town of Sebastian, Florida. The novel opens in 2009 about 10 years after the quartet has graduated and gone their separate ways, only to be inextricably linked back in Sebastian.

The novel unfolds as a mystery through flashbacks and investigations with a murky Florida-noir atmosphere. Sebastian is a real place in east-central Florida, but the novel seems to put it much closer to the Everglades with invasive boas and iguanas arising out of the swamps. But the drugs, the real estate foreclosures, and the danger hanging over a general apathy ring true. I was riveted, but never truly moved. ( )
1 vote janeajones | May 29, 2013 |
I liked the book in the beginning, but I was not drawn into the plot. I did not sympathize with any of the characters. In the beginning, I confused a couple of the members of the Lola Quartet and had to reread. They were a bunch of losers despite being talented musicians. Not a success story in the bunch.
I won't spoil the ending, but it did not redeem the rest of the book.
  honkcronk | May 28, 2013 |
The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel is another of those novels I picked up because something about the title and the cover (there I go again, initially judging a book by its cover) intrigued me. It turned out to be a pleasure to read - a well-paced mystery exploring all those complicated issues surrounding the juxtaposition of who we are compared to who we thought we'd become.

The novel is named for a high school jazz quartet consisting of most of the novel's central characters, who are pulled back together years later by a dangerous coincidence. Gavin Sasaki is a fedora-sporting, noir-loving, soon-to-be disgraced journalist on an assignment in his Florida home town when his sister informs him that she has come across a young girl who looked exactly like she did when she was that age. They suddenly both wonder what became of Anna, his high school girl friend, who seemed to vanish after his senior year of high school, right before he moved to New York. The picture his sister takes of the eerily familiar-looking child leads to an unforeseeable chain of events as the mystery slowly unravels.

We spend a little time with each of the main characters: the members of the original quartet, and Anna. The story also shifts between past and present, giving us glimpses into how each came to be living a life so far from their youthful, hopeful renderings of the future.
He stopped halfway to look up at the sky. He'd been reading about constelations recently, and had fallen particularly in love with the North Star. It always took him some time to find it in the haze of the streetlight, but there it was. True north, the direction of his second life, New York. He felt in those days that he was always on the edge of something, always waiting, his life about to begin. Everyone seems to be in some state of flux - and none of their lives have turned out remotely as they'd imagined. Their self-imposed isolation and loneliness doggs them all in varying ways, but they also manage to find solutions to their stases - although whether or not they are good solutions is up for debate. Nevertheless, the novel manages to end on a hopeful note.

I also had the good fortune to meet the adorable Ms. Mandel yesterday evening at Left Bank Books, one of my favorite local bookstores! It was not the largest turnout, but the four of us managed to have a nice time sitting in a circle, chatting about the novel, writing, and musing about life in general. Meet the author events always seem to have a certain level of awkwardness (or, perhaps it's just me that's awkward!), but this one felt more intimate, like a new book club getting off the ground. At any rate, I highly recommend both reading The Lola Quartet and meeting the warm and unassuming Emily St. John Mandel if you get the chance. I've already picked up a copy of her second novel, The Singer's Gun, and hope it won't remain in my substantial TBR pile for too long.

*I originally received this novel from NetGalley & Unbridled Books in exchange for my review, but have since bought a hard copy. ( )
  zeteticat | Apr 2, 2013 |
This was a quick read, but didn't really move me. The characters, setting and story were all fairly distinct and memorable, but for me that little spark of magic was missing and in the end, I didn't care all that much what happened. ( )
  anneearney | Mar 31, 2013 |
3.5 stars

My blog post about this book is at this link. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Mar 31, 2013 |
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"The novelty of our adventure was wearing thin, but not because our feet hurt and we were constantly blaming each other for the forgotten sunscreen. There was some other thing that we could not clearly explain. The farther we ventured, the more everything looked the same, as if each new street, park, or shopping mall was simply another version of our own, made from the same giant assembly kit. Only the names were different." Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia
"One of these mornings/
You're going to rise up singing/
Then you'll spread your wings/
And you'll take to the sky/
But until that morning/
There's nothing can harm you..."
George Gershwin, Summertime
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Anna had fallen into a routine, or as much of a routine as a seventeen-year-old can reasonably fall into when she's transient and living in hiding with an infant. She was staying at her sister's friend's house in a small town in Virginia.
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Gavin Sasaki's 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 drifting toward bankruptcy and is in no position to refuse when he's offered a job by his sister, Eilo, a real estate broker who deals.… (more)

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