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The Lola Quartet Hardcover – May 1, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The mystery surrounding the two percolates with suspense — the friends are hiding something — but the most interesting aspect of Ms. St. John Mandel’s novel, her third, is how aggressively unglamorous it is, starting with Gavin himself. But he’s hardly the only one with a “fallen-down life” in a world of weed-fringed cul-de-sacs, 7-Elevens and ‘Cinnabon-scented’ mall air.” –New York Times

“[An] elegant, hypnotic novel….engrossing….Mandel brilliantly modulates the heightening suspense in a novel that remains, above all, an elegy for lost — and perhaps only imagined — innocence.” —The Washington Post

". . . the book, like its brilliant predecessor, “The Singer’s Gun,” virtually trumpets its author’s talents: her charismatic verbal grace and acuity, the rich atmosphere she creates, and the thoughtful way she tries to tease meaning out of the collateral damage her characters, in screwing up, have wrought."—The Boston Globe

“A remarkable morality play. Perhaps all novelists can be said to wrestle with morality; Mandel seems to wrestle with it at greater length and in greater depth than most novelists, a statement that applies to her previous novels, Last Night in Montreal and The Singer’s Gun….Reared in the Canadian province of British Columbia, a student of dance in Toronto and eventually a resident of Brooklyn, Mandel gained insights into human nature that promise more first-rate fiction.”—The Dallas Morning News

“The Lola Quartet is a decade-spanning, well-compressed novel with a pared-down style . . . deft . . . riveting . . .
What makes this book memorable is . . . the meditation of these characters, who are not otherwise criminals, on their complicity in real crime.”
–The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This adrenaline-fuelled tale is hard to put down.” —The Globe and Mail

"This ingeniously structured literary thriller begins in sunlight before slipping deeper and deeper into crime and moral darkness. ...All I can tell you about the novel's resolution is that it involves a shooting, an impersonation and a murder. Summarized, the plot twists sound improbable, but Emily St. John Mandel is so sure-footed in her invention and so good at delineating her cast, that I went along trustingly and with bated breath."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Riveting…. Evocative, intriguing, and complex, this novel is as smooth as the underbelly of a deadly, furtive reptile. Mandel’s substantial fan base will rejoice; word of mouth will bring new fans on board.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review

“The author again melds mystery plotting with literary techniques like shifting points-of-view, resulting in both sophistication and suspense . . . Mandel’s novel excels as a character study that considers the slow degradation of hopes, dreams, and expectations of people who are only in their late 20s but already feel ancient.”
—Publishers Weekly

“…gut-wrenching….After last year’s superb, twisty The Singer’s Gun, Mandel wouldn’t be faulted if she eased up and wrote something more straightforward, but she didn’t. Subtlety in the midst of chaos is her forte, and as the action slowly ramps up to murder, her tone is controlled, her artistic vision flawless.”—Mystery Scene

“Mandel offers up her unique blend of literary character studies mixed with crime fiction in her third novel…. Fascinating.”

“The noir-ish storyline will hook you from the first page, but you’ll stay for the well-drawn relationships and all-too-familiar grown-up angst.”
—Flavorwire in their article on 10 New Must Reads for May

“Each of her books is a winning combination of gorgeous, unique imagery and nail-biting, page-turning narrative....Mandel’s novels perfectly blend beautiful language and suspenseful mystery to investigate human behavior and relationships.”
—Overflow Magazine

About the Author

Emily St. John Mandel was born on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She studied at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York. Her first novel, Last Night in Montreal was a June 2009 Indie Next pick and a finalist for Foreword Magazine’s 2009 Book of the Year. Her second novel, The Singer’s Gun, recently released in paperback, won the Indie Bookseller’s Choice Award and was the number-one Indie Next Pick for May 2010. It was also long-listed for The Morning News’ 2011 Tournament of Books and the 2011 Spinetingler Awards.

She is currently a staff writer for The Millions, and she’s had both essays and short fiction recently anthologized.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books; First Edition edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609530799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609530792
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,236,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By My 2 Cents VINE VOICE on May 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In Emily St John' Mandel's latest book: The Lola Quartet, four former high school friends who were part of a jazz group in high school, (The Lola Quartet), find their lives intersect after many years, having reconnected under unusual circumstances. When the novel's protagonist, Gavin Sasaki, a journalist from NYC, is fired from his job in 2009, he moves to Sebastian, Florida, when his sister, Elio, offers him a job in her real estate business. His job is working with clients whose homes will soon be foreclosed upon. While in Florida he sees a photo of a young girl about 10 years of age who looks exactly like his sister when she was about the same age. This girl, Chloe Montgomery, bears the same last name as a girl Gavin dated 10 years earlier who mysteriously disappeared almost overnight. At the time rumor was that Anna Montgomery, had been pregnant.

Gavin becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Anna, and whether this young girl could possibly be his child. In the hopes of learning more about the past, he tracks down former friends from, The Lola Quartet. He is hoping that at least one of the members, Anna's brother will be able to help him find out more about what happened to Anna.

The story is told through a series of flashbacks blending present with the past over a 10-year period. The author is extremely talented, providing an interesting character study of the former friends. It's a story of dreams not turning out as planned, especially when flawed characters have made bad decisions and choices in life. I loved the pitch perfect descriptions of the Florida landscape. The economic situations experienced by many when the housing crisis reached it's peak were dead on accurate.

Although for me, the novel got off to a slow start, the writing and the surprising conclusion are enough reason to recommend this book as one that many readers will enjoy. I definitely plan to try another book by this author.
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Format: Hardcover
Returning to his hometown in Florida to report a story despite his susceptibility to heatstroke, journalist Gavin Sasaki learns from his sister Eileen that a ten-year-old girl, Chloe Montgomery, may be his daughter. Chloe looks like a younger Eileen and has the last name of Gavin's former girlfriend. Gavin hasn't seen Anna Montgomery since she dropped out of high school, when Gavin was in a jazz quartet with Anna's sister, Sasha. Rattled by the discovery and under the gun to produce good stories or perish in the next round of newsroom layoffs, Gavin begins to play roulette with his career by fabricating sources and quotations.

Meanwhile, a third member of Gavin's former jazz combo, Daniel Smith, is in Utah negotiating with a meth dealer to pay a large debt. Daniel is now a Florida cop. The novel's opening scene lets the reader know that the debt is somehow related to Anna, but its exact nature remains a mystery until much of the story has been told. The final member, piano and sax player Jack Baranovsky, is still in Florida, making a contribution to the story as a pill addict who knows more about Anna's situation -- and his own involvement in it -- than he's prepared to tell Gavin.

Why is Anna on the run? Why does everyone but Gavin seem to know that she was pregnant when she left school? Why is her baby turning up in Florida ten years later? How does acclaimed jazz guitarist Liam Deval fit into Anna's plight? These are the absorbing questions that kept me reading. The novel fills in the backstory as it progresses. Eventually the pieces fit together tightly, leaving the reader to worry about the present danger that occupies the last third of the novel.
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Format: Hardcover
There's no going back. Once high school is over, just like Bruce Springsteen says, there's nothing but `glory days,' rehashing what might have been. The Lola Quartet gave their last performance of the year from the back of the truck and that too was when Gavin last saw his wannabe-girlfriend, Anna, as she stood in the outskirts of the woods. He looked for her but she was just gone. Rumors that she was pregnant where supposedly authenticated when his band mate and best friend Daniel disappeared about the same time.
They all moved on but Gavin more than the others. He got the college degree that sent him to New York to work as a high-powered journalist. Addicted to the infamy, he started glamorizing his stories with quotes that he thought his boring subjects could have said ignoring their real world answers, until the inevitable happened and he had to leave, head hung low.
The shame took him home to swampy steamy Florida from where he escaped to avoid the omnipresent heat. His sister found him work with her firm, flipping homes going into foreclosure, and also showed him a photograph she took of a ten-year-old girl, the spitting image of Gavin; no mistaking the Japanese ancestry. Daniel is now a small town cop, Anna's sister Sasha works nights in the town diner, and the last member of the band, Jack is living a drug-addled life in a tent in a friend's back yard. Gavin uses the skills he learned as a top-notch reporter to put together the big picture and track down what appears to be the daughter he never knew about.
The lives the four led since high school took them down paths no one could have imagined, and what Gavin learns shocks and scares him to the core. Be prepared to be surprised.
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