Friday, April 15, 2022

Book Review: "Sea of Tranquility" by Emily St. John Mandel

A slow burn, but a mesmerizing, powerful story about connection, regret, love, music, and time travel.

Did you ever read a book and wonder how you might review it? Not because you aren’t sure how you feel about it, but because it’s so hard to describe? That’s the way I felt while reading this. I loved it, but describing it won’t be easy.

In 1912, a young Englishman has been exiled to Canada by his family after an awkward and inappropriate rant at a dinner party. After many stops and starts, he winds up in a remote town surrounded by a forest. When exploring one day, he looks up into a tree and hears the notes of a violin with the sound of an airship taking off. He doesn’t know what the sounds are or what they mean, but they shake him to his core.

Nearly 300 years later, a writer is on tour of Earth when one of her books about a pandemic is being adapted into a movie. The book contains a scene in which a man plays the violin in an airship terminal while ships depart. At the same time, there are concerns another plague may affect Earth.

Meanwhile, in 2401, a bored hotel detective living in a colony on the moon becomes obsessed with the question of whether life is real or a simulation. He volunteers for time travel and meets a young Englishman who thinks he’s losing his mind, a writer away from her family at the start of a plague, and a friend he’s seen at different stages of his life. Can he simply observe or will he change the course of time?

This is a gorgeous, thought-provoking book but it definitely won’t be for everyone. I love time travel and I love the way Emily St. John Mandel writes, so I was completely hooked.

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