Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Station Eleven has been getting a lot of buzz, so it had been on my radar. I was pleased when it was on the bestseller shelf at the library! I snatched it up.
And I'm glad I did.
The book opens on a production of King Lear. Arthur Leander playes Lear, and 8 year old Kirsten plays one of his daughters in this creative interpretation of the play. There is a tragedy on stage, and a young man comes from the audience to help. After that scene closes, we then open 15 years later, after the Georgia flu has claimed the life of most of the world's population. Society has collapsed. People live in small groups, some of which are nomadic, like the Traveling Symphony.
We follow Kirsten, now grown, as she travels around the Great Lakes with the Traveling Symphony, as the troupe performs Shakespeare and music for scattered small communities. We flash back to Arthur's life before Lear, including his previous wives, his best friend, and his rise to fame. We see Jeevan, the young would-be rescuer, as he works to understand what life has become after the Georgia flu. And we see Kirsten, a child when society collapsed, and now an adult, trying to make meaning in this new world.
The story could have been really convoluted, going from past to present and back again, but Mandel weaves the story together beautifully. Mandel has created a stunning novel, exploring connection and love and humanity. Well done.
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