The Glass Hotel and Valentine are spellbinding novels of greed, grace, and grit: Review
This week, EW reviews two of March's biggest fiction titles: The anticipated follow-up from Station Eleven author Emily St. John Mandel and the buzzy debut by Elizabeth Wetmore.
The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel
Endings and beginnings, disaster and survival — in Emily St. John Mandel's fiction, there's a before and an after, but the action never feels less than rivetingly current. The author of 2014's Station Eleven returns with a new novel, and it's just as good if not better than her post-apocalyptic triumph: a story of greed and guilt that bends the laws of time, jumps from Vancouver to Wall Street to ships on the open water, conjures ghosts, and confronts parallel universes. The Glass Hotel's inciting catastrophe — the collapse of a Bernie Madoff-size con — departs from the speculative (and, suddenly, prescient) intrigue of Eleven's flu pandemic, but Mandel's elegiac, playful rendering of the fallout remains singular, delicately threading characters and stories and worlds into an epic tapestry. The plotting marks a master in her prime, gradual before breathless; a marvel of intricacy from beginning to end — and back again. —David Canfield
Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore
Odessa in 1976 is the kind of Texas oil town where the men work as hard as they drink, the women carry pistols in their pocketbooks, and tumbleweeds are what pass for local greenery. But no one knows quite how to handle the rape of a girl named Gloria Ramírez — especially when her attacker is white. Elizabeth Wetmore's sunbaked prose can read more like a writer's rich imagination than real life, but as the story goes on it becomes a monument to a sort of singular grace, and true grit. —Leah Greenblatt
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