Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel -a review

sea of tranquilitySea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

The award-winning author of Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel returns with a novel of time travel that precisely captures the reality of our current moment. Sea of Tranquility is a virtuoso performance and an enormously exciting offering from one of our most remarkable writers.

In 1912, eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic, exiled from English polite society. In British Columbia, he enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and for a split second all is darkness, the notes of a violin echoing unnaturally through the air. The experience shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later Olive Llewelyn, a famous writer, is traveling all over Earth, far away from her home in the second moon colony. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in time, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an aristocrat driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

Sea of Tranquility is a novel that investigates the idea of parallel worlds and possibilities, that plays with the very line along which time should run. Perceptive and poignant about art, and love, and what we must do to survive, it is incredibly compelling.

Published 12 April 2022|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

I just adore this cover! The colour, the gloss, and, with my copy, texture. I enjoyed author’s novel, Station Eleven, as it didn’t turn out as per my expectation, and I was intrigued by the description of this book which yet again, did NOT turn out as per my expectation.

At first, the jump in time settings and characters felt disparate in plot and structure until you notice something that doesn’t quite fit in each timeline.  And this is basically the first half of the book so you do feel a little disjointed but as soon as some explanation that actually thread these timelines together, I got really excited to dig into this mystery. And that big twist at the end was just Marvellous! 

Pandemics don’t approach like wars, with the distant thud of artillery growing louder every day and flashes of bombs on the horizon. They arrive in restrospect, essentially. It’s disorienting. The pandemic is far away and then it’s all around you, with seemingly no intermediate step.

Aside from the main overall arc, there is something that interest me in each different part of the novel. Thoughts on colonisation, of grief & anger, of being lost, of fear & death, etc. There were many thoughts that chime with me personally but that you’d probably find other bits that chime with you. However, certainly the thoughts of pandemics and lockdowns are understood by all in our current situation. I am finding it very hard to get my thoughts together on this book – it’s probably one that needs a very long simmer in my brain.

There is a very poignant feel to the book as each characters explored certain life decisions and regrets however at the end, I found a mixture of triumph and disbelief. The question is what would you have chosen in face of consequences, of exile, of death?

…, isn’t that reality? Won’t most of us die in fairly unclimactic ways, our passing unremarked by almost everyone, our deaths becoming plot points in the narratives of the people around us?

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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