Author Emily St. John Mandel is quite popular for her best-selling book, Station Eleven. She was also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize for The Glass Hotel. In her latest novel, Sea of Tranquility, she delves into the existential questions of time and being.

You’ll get the feeling of having glimpsed something lovely and then lost as you read this amazing book. Lonely authors, exiles, time travelers, grieving friends, and other elements make Sea of Tranquility an interesting novel to read.

The beginning

The story begins in 1912 with Edwin St. John St. Andrew undertaking a solo journey to Canada from England. He is the scion of an aristocratic family who is expelled from home for his act of rebellion. In the forest of Vancouver, he mysteriously encounters an individual named Gaspery Roberts.

Then begins a new section that takes you more than a century into the future. A woman by the name Mirella Kessler learns that her estranged friend named Vincent is dead. References to the mysterious encounter in a Vancouver forest with Gaspery Roberts is made in this section as well.

You then move on to the third section almost a couple of centuries into the future. In this section, you’ll encounter another new character. However, the mysterious vision and Gaspery Roberts appear here as well.

Introduction to the characters

The novel’s first 100 pages would introduce you to a group of people. Each of them are either lonely or sad or purposeless. You’ll get to meet some of the characters from The Glass Hotel who have spent their time with Olive Llewellyn. He is a 23rd-century writer who has become famous for having written a book.

Things get a bit more interesting from here. One big reason is that you get the feeling that the novel is catching up to Gaspery Roberts. He has grown up on the moon during the late 24th century. You’ll find that it’s already the dawn of the 25th century when the story turns to him.

The nostalgic Gaspery Roberts

This mysterious man now works at the Grand Luna Hotel as a house detective. Despite his relocation to the high-end Colony One, he often slips into nostalgia. Roberts remembers how he grew up in Colony Two, which is now relatively derelict. The sky was always black at the place, which gave it the nickname, Night City.

His work at the hotel only involves being present and paying attention to everything happening around him. Soon, he takes up a new position at the shop of his sister, Zoey. His job would take him to some place unusual. He also needs to investigate the anomalous vision that he has.

Closing thoughts

Mandel makes one of her excellent forays into the area of speculative fiction with this novel. What sets it apart is the author’s ability to get a sustaining acknowledgment of beauty from her reader. She also inhabits the ordinary quite convincingly. The book certainly seems to have been born of some hard-won understanding and empathy. You’ll also notice that everything has been beautifully built into the language.

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