Bowering, Marilyn Visible Worlds

ISBN 13: 9780006551133

Visible Worlds

3.67 avg rating
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9780006551133: Visible Worlds

Mesmerizing storytelling, great themes embodied and hidden in the workings of realistic relationships and lives, precise language and a strong whiff of the uncanny – a magnificent novel.

A moving and memorable epic tale that spans decades and continents to bring us the riches of one family’s history of intertwined lives.

In the farming country of Winnipeg, two brothers grow up and apart in the 1930s, gravitating towards a parent each as mother and father themselves find a changing climate in world affairs reaching out to their rural backwater and prising them asunder…

Exhaustion is crippling FIka at the icecap; it’s midwinter 1960, and she’s lost her companions to a frosty death, can barely carry her lifeblood, and must still ski for a month yet to reach civilization on the other side of the North Pole. Will she survive? Where will she find the will?

Quite how these two gripping tales on their separate sides of the globe unfold and come together as mesmerizingly as they do is the beauty and the accomplishment of this magical epic.

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Review:

Marilyn Bowering's Visible Worlds introduces at least 12 characters, cuts from Winnipeg to Siberia to the North Pole, shifts back and forth in time from 1960 to 1934 and depicts three crucial deaths. And that's just the first 14 pages. There's more to come--much more--in this book that takes on the Great Depression, World War II and the Korean War, exploring their effects on three improbably intertwined families. The plot's remarkable contortions are too labyrinthine to describe here, but suffice to say they involve meteors, Nazis, several dead, deformed and abandoned babies, personal magnetism, labour camps, polar exploration, the Odd Fellows, circus performers and lots and lots of snow. Like her fellow Canadian Michael Ondaatje, Marilyn Bowering is primarily a poet and her background shows: in the book's lovely imagery, in its striking economy of language and also, perhaps, in its greatest narrative shortcoming. Ranging over four continents and nearly three decades, Visible Worlds often feels overly compressed, as if it wanted to be a longer, more leisurely book. On the other hand, this lyric compression gives the novel an almost violent intensity. With its complex web of settings, time periods and plots, often connected by the most tenuous of threads, Visible Worlds feels like a fever dream yanked straight from the collective 20th-century unconscious. -- Mary Park, Amazon.com

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Reviews
"The pivotal characters are twins brought up in rural Canada during the 1930s. One of them is dispatched to Germany to study music and gets caught up with the Hitler Youth movement. The other, quieter one, leads a voyeuristic existence, trying to make sense of the lives of his parents and their friends. There is a lot to make sense of. His father believes in a wierd science known as Personal Magnetism and takes a clairvoyant for his mistress. His mother is haunted by the spectre of an earlier love affair and an abandoned child. And what about Fika, the young Russian woman who, in a parallel narrative, is busy trying to ski across the ice-cap to Canada in 1960?...Visible Worlds blossoms into a real page-turner. Those willing to follow where Bowering leads will find themselves enthralled... Some of the descriptive passages, particularly of the frozen Arctic wastes, are spell-bindingly good. Even better is the warmth of feeling Bowering brings to the characterisation. We care about these people, on their strange pilgrimages of discovery." SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

"The characters are thousands of miles apart and there are points when we desperately want the two narratives to rub up close. But Bowering keeps us hanging on like icicles until the dark and wonderful end." THE TIMES

"Bowering floats across the surface of time as gracefully as Fika glides along the ice; she writes lyrically but unobtrusively, letting the longings and hopes of her characters emerge of their own accord. When time runs out for one of them, you are surprised to find how much you care. " GUARDIAN

"Marilyn Bowering's second novel is a tour de force, lavish in its scale, complication and information... Bowering unteases the epic story of three families over 30 years, across 3 continents and through two wars. With a fine balance of conviction, she pulls it off."

"Visible Worlds is quite unlike anything I have ever read... a huge and richly detailed, properly page-turning story, surprisingly knotted and plotted, magical and vivid.A vast and intricately wrought romancewith its epic journeys into extremis and ice and alchemic intelligence illuminates the normally invisible filaments of friendship, love and truth." Liz Lochhead

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