Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Sea Of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel


In this novel, Mandel uses time travel to illustrate how interconnected all of our lives are and how one act can echo through the years, changing lives as it intersects with them.  Gaspery Roberts is at loose ends, working dead ends jobs to support himself while figuring out what would make his life meaningful.  His sister and a former childhood friend both work at the Time Institute.  His friend suggests that Gaspery become a time detective, investigating instances where an act has slipped in time and impacting events in an unplanned manner.  His sister is adamantly opposed but Gaspery is intrigued and signs up for training.

There is an abnormality in the forest in rural Canada in 1912.  It was witnessed by several individuals throughout time.  Edwin St. John St. Andrew, who has been sent to Canada by his aristocratic family, is the first to see it.  It is a black hole in the forest, an indication that something is wrong.  In 2020, Mirelle goes to a concert to see a video her good friend, Vincent has taken as a child.  It is the same scene in the Canadian forest.  The composer of the night's entertainment had been Vincent's brother and he uses his sister's video as an accompaniment of his own work.  

In 2023, Gaspery makes his big mistake.  The main rule in the Time Institute is that he is not to make any changes.  He meets Olive Llewellyn who is an author on a book tour for her recently released book.  A pandemic is just starting and Gaspery tells Olive to go home.  She does and thus lives a long life and gets to see her child grow up but Gaspery is now an outlaw.  How he manages his life from this point on moves the action.

Emily St. John Mandel has been one of my favorite authors since her first novel.  She is an author whose books I anxiously await and always read as soon as possible.  Her books are not straightforward in terms of plot.  Instead, various threads are laid out and eventually woven together to make the author's point.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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