Posted in Autumn, books

Fall is in The Air and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

As I’ve said before (if you’ve read my posts, you know; if not, welcome!), I am a Colorado girl. Born and raised. I left for awhile, moved back. Left again, moved back. And I’ve left again. It makes me sad; I miss the mountains, my family, and the Broncos. But I’ve made a wonderful life here in Ohio, and we love Delaware. While we were in Colorado this summer, we considered a move back. But when we got home, we realized that Ohio is okay, and Delaware is a fantastic place to call home. For our girls, for us, for business, for the people. And, for the fall.

Fall in Delaware, and in Ohio, is spectacular. The aspen trees in the Rocky Mountains are beautiful, and nothing beats the way they shimmer, but their colors don’t come close to the colors of a perfect fall in Ohio. A rainy summer, cooler temps throughout, and just enough varied heat in the fall and you get all those fall colors that are so stunning.

We have a lot of trees, too, in Delaware (and throughout Ohio). This year it is breathtaking.

Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, as seen from above.
Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, as seen from above.

This past weekend fall hit full force. The weather changed and it got cold, our high school held their homecoming football game, and sports were on full force. My friend’s children were running cross country, playing soccer, marching in the band at half-time, getting ready for the homecoming dance (luckily my girls are too young for that one). Libby hit the pool full-force for winter swimming, and it even snowed (for about a minute. About five minutes of sleet. And then just cold!)!

Sunday was full on wonderful fall at our house. Football, chicken and corn chowder smells permeating the house, bundled under a blanket and reading. Coffee all day, kids playing and reading–just a great family, fall day. These are my favorites.

We got married in the fall. In fact, tomorrow is our anniversary. Fourteen years. WOW! Our wedding was a wonderful mix of colors; leaves on the tables, pumpkins and mums as centerpieces. Orange and gold roses as flowers. It was wonderful. And a good day for all.

So, fall is in full swing. Halloween is around the corner; Thanksgiving right behind. Then Christmas. Time flies, huh? Gives my stomach a tumble just thinking about it all. For now, I’ll sit back and concentrate on this season, my favorite. I’ll bake some pumpkin bread and apple crisp. I’ll relish this season for as long as I can. Because time does fly, and the seasons’ change quickly.

“She was thinking about the way she’d always taken for granted that the world had certain people in it, either central to her days or unseen and infrequently thought of. How without any one of these people the world is a subtly but unmistakably altered place, the dial turned just one or two degrees. ” Miranda Carroll

“Because survival is insufficient.” Star Trek Voyager

Before the world ends, Arthur Leander, a famous actor, takes to the stage for Shakespeare’s King Lear. We are spectators as he suffers a heart attack and dies on stage. That is the last night of the world as it is known, as the Georgian flu swoops in and kills quickly, without remorse.

This is the beginning of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

The book then jumps 20 years in the future, after the world is done and the survivors try to make their way. The book follows a troupe that travels from settlement to settlement, putting on Shakespeare and orchestra performances for the huddled survivors. The Traveling Symphony is a ragtag group of musicians and actors of varying ages. Our main character in this group is Kirsten, a young woman who was a child on the set of Leander’s Lear production (I know, there are no children in Lear, but they were doing something different).

The cast lives through religious zealots and attacks while on the road in Northern Michigan, where they have decided to head to an airport where there is a sort of camp and a Museum of Civilization, a repository of things remembered from a bygone age. Kirsten carries with her a gift from Arthur, two comic books (graphic novels?) created by his first wife, Miranda, called Station Eleven. These detail the exodus from earth and a life on a different planet, and a world Undersea. She cherishes them and reads them constantly.

The story hops back 20 years, to Arthur’s life and those in it. It hops forward to the night of his heart attack and the time immediately after, following the progress of Jeevan, a photographer/medical school dropout/EMT hopeful that attempted to save Arthur on stage, as he survives the flu and the world immediately after. And it hops to the books present, giving us Kirsten and the troop’s progress through upper midwest.

The troop’s motto (as well as the tattoo on Kirsten’s arm) is “Because Survival is Insufficient.” Music, art, and Shakespeare, go on because of this motto, and create a bit of humanity in settlements that are just surviving. Humanity needs to be relearned, and civilization must be regained even without a civilized world.

Station Eleven is a lyrical glimpse of a bleak, dystopian future, finding beauty in surprising ways. It centers around Arthur Leander, and his influences on a pre and post apocalyptic world. At this point, the book is on the long-list for the National Book Award, and it should be. Powerful and real, Mandel does a great job telling this story of hope and beauty in a future that is bleak and deadly.

Five stars.



I love to read; writing is my outlet. My blog is my way to combine the two, with a some life stories thrown in for good measure.

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