Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, narrated by Jack Hawkins

I really really enjoyed Station Eleven, and wish I’d read it sooner. I’ve been vacillating over buying it since it first came out, and was aware that it was very well received. But from the blurb, I’d convinced myself it would be all about the Travelling Symphony – a group of actors and musicians who travel the apocalyptic remnants of society performing Shakespeare. And that just didn’t pique my interest, or seem enough to sustain a whole novel.

Happily, Station Eleven is about far more than the Travelling Symphony. It’s also about far more than the apocalypse, moving back and forth in time between the five main characters, who are linked in ways some of them aren’t even aware of.

There’s a tenderness at the heart of Station Eleven that really moved me. The narration by Jack Hawkins was excellent, and Emily St. John Mandel’s writing is superb. I think my favourite element is Station Eleven itself – a graphic novel and labour of love compiled over many years, that comes to mean more than its author ever could have imagined.

This is the sort of book that I’d give as a gift, and I take literary gift-giving very seriously – a responsibility, if you will. I’ll be very surprised if Station Eleven doesn’t end up being one of my favourite reads of the year.

[On an entirely glorious side note, while writing this review I looked up what else Emily St. John Mandel has written. I came across this wonderful article on the abundance of “Girl”s in fiction (The Gone Girl With The Dragon Tattoo On The Train) and feel as if I’ve found a kindred spirit. And one with more maturity than my incessant desire to Photoshop “Woman” over offending book titles, at that.)

[Read from 6-11 July 2017]

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