Book Review: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility is a wonderful novel of time travel which takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to land five hundred years later on a colony on the moon. It is an imaginative delight, exploring time travel and its fragilities. It’s also science fiction at its best and I’ve just wondered why I have read so little of this genre.

The novel begins in 1912 with Englishman, Edwin St Andrew who is forced by his family to travel to Canada. He’s not particularly keen to settle in the new frontier but during a walk in a forest, he encounters a shocking phenomena of a violin playing and a swooshing sound for which he can find no explanation. 

Two centuries later, a famous writer, Olive Llewellyn hears a musician playing violin in a subway while trees emerge around him.  Her latest book is about a pandemic which resonates just a little too much given our recent history. She inserts a strange paragraph about the musician. Another three hundred years later, we meet naïve but bored, Gaspery-Jacques Roberts who lives in the dark colony on the moon. He becomes a detective who is sent on a time-travelling mission to 1912 to investigate the anomaly witnessed by Edwin.

There is a lot in this novel to keep you focussed on the timelines and the characters who are all well-developed yet complex, each with their own motivations and desires. Edwin St Andrew is a man trapped between two worlds, the old and the new, struggling to find his place. Olive Llewellyn is torn about her daughter and the changing world around her as she faces yet another pandemic.  Gaspery-Jacques Roberts is desperate to prove himself yet struggles with the moral and ethical issues around time travel.

The author creates a cohesive and believable world. The scientific and technological elements make sense adding depth to the narrative.

Overall, this is a delightful and imaginative novel that explores the complexities of time-travel and the fragility of human existence. It kept me hooked until the very satisfactory and surprising end. I really enjoyed this short action packed novel.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

  1. Pingback: The Month that was…May 2023 | S.C. Karakaltsas

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