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Station Eleven: A Book Review

With a great deal of society’s leisure activity currently taking place online, now is a good time to savour getting buried in a good book. Below, Diana Hutchison, our wonderful College Librarian, shares her review of one of her most recent reads, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Review by Diana Hutchison

Station Eleven lingers in the mind.  The novel follows a small group of characters from the beginning of a pandemic, with the main narrative taking place twenty years after the collapse.  We see the effect the events have had on them, and learn of the ways in which they are connected.

The book opens at the start of the pandemic, with a production of King Lear in Toronto, and the death of King Lear on stage.  The production includes the unusual addition of child actors representing the youth of Lear’s three daughters.  Twenty years later, the actor who played the child Cordelia is part of the Travelling Symphony, which visits post-apocalyptic settlements, performing Shakespeare and classical music, because “Survival is insufficient”.

Nostalgia for the lost civilization permeates the book.

“An incomplete list:

No more diving into pools of chlorinated water.

No more porch lights with moths fluttering on summer nights.

No more trains running under the surface of cities.  No more cities.

No more towns glimpsed from the sky through airplane windows.

No more countries, all borders unmanned.

No more Internet.  No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room.”

This lyrical novel has a rare combination of an unputdownable plot and ideas which will stay with you for years to come.