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Invisible River by Helena McEwen

Invisible River

by Helena McEwen

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6625274,308 (3.02)16
Evie has left her father, her life in Cornwall and her childhood behind her to begin a very different sort of life in London. At first the great city provides her with a world of inspiration. Her imagination is fired by the history, and the scenes of London. With Rob, Bianca and 'the ballerina', Evie discovers the ancient and ever-changing city and her paintings are filled with colour and fantasy as she indulges her need to escape. This new life seems safe and peaceful until the moment her alcoholic father arrives and spins this new world around so that the past is again her present. Evie struggles to carry on with the life she has been building but her fears and memories are never far away. The dreams and the nightmares come together on the canvas of Evie's young life and it is her new friends, the city she has fallen in love with, and most of all, her growing friendship with a talented young sculptor, that must hold her together.… (more)



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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Wow, this book was absolutely breathtaking. I felt like I was in the paintings and walking the streets of London along side Evie! So amazing. :)

*won from goodreads ( )
  emily.s | May 6, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I liked this book but having everything related through the eyes of a painter at every turn gets a bit wearying. The characters were good but, for me, there was something about every one of them that I found really annoying and I just couldn't help wondering if meant to represent 'typical' eccentric arty people, or if they were just all annoying. ( )
  Dgmknzgrl | Apr 20, 2012 |
Wow, this book was absolutely breathtaking. I felt like I was in the paintings and walking the streets of London along side Evie! So amazing. :) ( )
  emily.s | Apr 10, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Authors come at writing from many different walks of life. Oftentimes they have had another career first or they have taken another path before realizing that writing is where their passion lies. And sometimes it is easy to guess where authors have come from through their writing. McEwen was an artist before turning her hand to writing and it clearly shows in her incredibly visual, composed, and artistic description in the novel Invisible River.

Opening with Eve on the verge of moving to London to pursue her studies as an art student, she is leaving her worn-down, sad, and alcoholic father, who has cared for her since her mother's death when she was small and she worries about his future knowing that she must break free and pursue her own life. She soon finds a close group of friends at school and starts painting jewel bright London cityscapes in celebration of the vibrant city in which she now lives. Eve also develops a friendship and a secret crush on a second year sculpture student, Zeb, who is already in a relationship.

When she chooses not to go home for Christmas, Eve makes the difficult decision to stay away from her needy father, anxious to conceal from herself just how poorly he is coping on his own. But he comes to find her in London, landing on her doorstep drunk and devastated. Frustrated by his embarrassing presence in her flat and his inability to face his demons, especially his alcoholism, she tells him to leave only to find herself consumed with worry and despair when he actually does disappear. Her cityscapes become riddled with nightmare characters and the colors are muddied and terrible as she embarks on a desperate quest to find him even as she knows he is lost to her, beyond saving.

The imagery in the novel is simply overwhelming and startlingly present. McEwen draws beautiful mental pictures of Eve's paintings, her friends' works, and Zeb's intricate and enchanting sculptures. Certain of her paragraphs are love letters to color and to technique. The art is detailed and full. The characters are not quite as vivid as their works although Eve's nightmares are lucid and phantasmagoric. The actual plot is really just a bildungsroman, Eve's coming of age and straining to break free of the past that she eventually comes to understand will be a part of her forever. The secondary characters' chosen subjects illuminate them as much as any description of them does. And Eve's artistic progression clearly highlights her inner turmoil and struggle. The middle section of the book, the search for Eve's father, overwhelms the framing sections a bit and makes the tone of the ending feel dreamily unearned. Over all though, there is some gorgeous and poetic writing here and McEwen can certainly paint a word picture. ( )
  whitreidtan | Jan 18, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Pretty much everything I had seen/read/heard about this book was tied somehow to alcoholism. It was therefore a little odd that with the exception of one very vague reference (once) in the first chapter, I read the first part of this book wondering if I had somehow confused it with another book. And then it happens.

I did not necessearily find this book difficult to read, but I did find the realism with which it was written and the all too true, but disturbing, feelings of the daughter unsettling. I became very vested in the interests of these characters and I "needed" to see how it was going to play out.

I seem to have given this book a slightly higher rating than others, but I would have given it even higher had it not been for the "style" of the author's writing. I am not familiar with McEwen, so maybe this is how she writes everything, but whole sections of the book were written like poetry. Sorry to say, I do not like poetry. The only thing which kept me reading was the fact that she occasionally stopped the poetry and wrote in traditional conversational segments. The jumping from a simple conversation to the imagery of the river was too disjointed for me. Possibly I simply cannot appreciate her poetic style, but the fact remains that the book seemed chaotic, and I found myself skimming the imagery to get to the meat. ( )
  pbadeer | Dec 17, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
From Publishers Weekly
Scottish writer McEwen makes her American debut with her third novel, a treacly coming-of-age story. . Instead of a story, McEwen gives readers a chronology of events, lackluster writing that seems more fitting for a high school drama, and a pile of melodrama. A story for a therapist, not a reader.
added by vancouverdeb | editPublishers Weekly
McEwen is a writer capable of great beauty, and she displays those skills once again...Such quality of thought and expression sits oddly, though, with the banality of college chat. Perhaps this is McEwen's intention, but there are inconsistencies...But in the more public scenes, with Eve's friends and college tutors, it takes on an almost amateurish hue, as though McEwen is not quite sure how to recreate plausible conversations. ..
This is the kind of charming, well-written, emotionally engaging, slightly silly female bildungsroman that once abounded in the Sixties and which has been much missed. If it has a whiff of autobiography to it, then so does the fiction of Margaret Drabble and early Iris Murdoch.

What is genuinely captivating about Invisible River is, however, not its story of young love, but its glowing portrait of London, and “the feeling of hope, of possibilities that London exudes
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To my parents, with love and thanks
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I just wanted him to turn round and wave as the train went out, instead of walking up the platform with that gloomy stooped back.
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