Book Review: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

May 9th, 2012

The Lola Quartet is Emily St. John Mandel’s latest novel and an excellent one at that! I was impressed years ago when I read her first novel Last Night in Montreal (my review) but I have to say I was blown away by this one. Her storytelling ability has only gotten more enthralling!

The book’s main focus is really Gavin, a journalist in New York, although there are a host of other characters that connect into the story. Gavin is a broken man as are all of the characters in this novel. Gavin’s girlfriend left him months ago, his job isn’t going all that well, and his shower has a leak that is threatening to flood his bathroom yet he just doesn’t have the motivation to do much about it.

When Gavin’s sister Eilo shows him a picture of a little girl she took in a house that was being foreclosed, they are both stunned by how much she resembles his sister. More stunning is that Gavin believes this little girl Chloe to be his. When Gavin loses his job after some very bad decisions, he moves back to his home town in Florida to live and work with his sister. His main focus though and this is something he even hides from his sister, is to find his old girlfriend Anna and her little girl Chloe.

The journey to locating Anna and Chloe leads Gavin to discover some disturbing things. What he learns terrifies him. Anna had gotten herself into trouble with some awful people – people who don’t hesitate to shoot first and ask questions later. As the mystery unfolds Gavin is forced to make some life changing decisions as well as really take a look at himself and decide what to do about his own future.

I can’t say I really connected with the characters but I didn’t have to. This novel is more about feeling for the characters, understanding the turmoil they are involved in, and wondering how it will all end. The Lola Quartet would be an excellent book club choice as there are so many things to talk about regarding friendships, feelings of guilt, and love. More importantly this book makes you sit back and ask yourself the question of just what would you do for someone you love? Would you pull out all the stops including putting yourself in jeopardy?

I find Emily’s writing beautiful but her books are the kind that you have to concentrate on (not in a bad way) to fully absorb her characters and plot. In The Lola Quartet there are quite a few characters to keep track off and the story does jump around quite a bit. Once you’re in the groove of things though you will totally lose yourself in the story she is telling and the pages will fly by as Emily builds the mystery of her novel culminating in a very satisfying ending. I would absolutely recommend The Lola Quartet!

You can pick up your own copy of The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel which was released by Unbridled Books on May 8 at, IndieBound, and B&N and releasing in Canada on May 28 by McArthur & Company at or Chapters Indigo.  Be sure to pop in and visit Emily St. John Mandel’s website and you can find her on Facebook and Twitter as well!

Source:  Review copy provided by Unbridled Books via McArthur & Co.  No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

34 Comments to “Book Review: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel”

  1. Mystica says:

    I just saw this in a Mailbox on Monday and was intrigued by the book. Thanks for the review.

  2. I just read/reviewed this one last week and liked it. It wasn’t perfect, but I do look forward to reading her (2) earlier books. Nice review Dar.

    • admin says:

      Diane, I saw that you had enjoyed it. I look forward to your thoughts on her first one when you get to it. I want to read her second one soon!

  3. Mary says:

    I’m so intrigued by the reviews for this book and yours is one more that makes me want to read it. Thanks :)

  4. JoAnn says:

    This sounds so good!! You’ve also just reminded me that Last Night in Montreal is still on my wish list.

  5. zibilee says:

    This is one that I really want to read. When I read her first book, I thought that it was excellent, and I have her second on my Kindle. Now I need to find this one, for sure. Your recommendation holds a lot of weight with me, and I am sure this would be an amazing read for me. Great review today, Dar!

    • admin says:

      Heather, I think this is the type of book you would really enjoy. I think I may have liked it even more than her first and I liked that one. I would love to hear your thoughts on it as they are always so much better portrayed than mine. lol.

  6. Serena says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

  7. Beth Hoffman says:

    A little while ago I put this book on my list. I’m really excited about reading it after reading your review.

    Happy Wednesday to you and little Sammy!

    • admin says:

      Beth, it’s really a fantastic book. I’d love to know your thoughts on it when you get a chance to read it.

      Sammy sends you some Sammy slurps!

  8. Audra says:

    I have Mandel’s previous novel but haven’t read it — and I’m very excited about this one. Your review has me more keyed up now — I love books that require all of me (in a good way!) — and sometimes character studies are more my thing than plot heavy novels. Thanks for this review!

    • admin says:

      Audra, that’s what I like about her books – they aren’t what I consider fluff – they are really substantial novels. I hope you get a chance to read her books. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them.

  9. Anna says:

    I find that I love having a connection to the characters and sometimes have trouble when I can’t connect. Glad that’s not an issue here.

    • admin says:

      Anna, I usually like having a connection to the characters as well but every so often there are novels where it’s not necessary and this is one of them.

  10. Jenners says:

    So many bloggers seems to love this author and her books. I must give her a try someday.

    • admin says:

      Jenners, yes you should give her a try one of these days. I’d love to know what you think of her books.

  11. blodeuedd says:

    Sadly this book does not seem to do anything for me

    • admin says:

      Linda, sadly I’m not sure this book is for you either. lol. Then again you never know – it might surprise you.

  12. Amy says:

    I haven’t read any of this author’s books yet but I want to. This one sounds terrific. I love your review Dar, you’ve totally sold me on this book!

    • admin says:

      Amy, I think you’d really enjoy her books so I hope you get a chance to read one of them or all.

  13. Very nice review. I’m not familiar with this writer but you’ve piqued my interest for sure.

    • admin says:

      Sim, thanks for popping in! That’s what I find great about blogs. You can find authors you may not have been familiar with and end up really enjoying their work.

  14. I keep reading great things about Mandel’s writing – I really do need to try her work.

  15. Staci says:

    I remember reading about her debut book and thinking I wanted to read it. If you rave so highly of her latest that is enough for me!

  16. jennygirl says:

    This seems a bit of a heavy read. Poor Gavin, if it’s not one thing it’s another apparently. thanks for the review.

  17. Lisa Garrett says:

    This sounds great. Thank you for the review!

  18. Carol says:

    I have this one and can’t wait to read it. Glad you enjoyed it. I fell in love with her writing when I read Last Night in Montreal.

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  21. I’m not familiar with the story or the writer but I’m intrigued by a story that is so enthralling without the reader being connected to the characters. Sounds like a read for me.

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