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Visible worlds: A novel Paperback – Aug 13 1998


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Paperback, Aug 13 1998
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From Publishers Weekly

First published to admiring reviews in Canada last fall, Bowering's powerful second novel (after To All Appearances a Lady, 1990) chronicles the tribulations of a Winnipeg family through WWII and the turmoil that follows. Twin brothers at the center of the story reflect parental differences: Gerhard inherits his mother's love of European culture, heading to prewar Germany to study music, while Albrecht stays home to marry the girl next-door. Their father studies "personal magnetism" and falls for a fortune-teller whom he has despised for years. Albrecht's friend, Nate, invents an imaginary companion after his sister burns to death, and Nate's father runs off with a tiger tamer. After the war, Gerhard, who was forced to become a German soldier, disappears into a Soviet labor camp, while Albrecht and Nate find themselves caught up in Korea. Interspersed throughout the narrative is the vividly imagined trek of Fika, a tough Soviet woman who crosses the North Pole to find a new life in Canada. Bowering maps the overlapping territory between science and spiritualism, love and madness. Her family melodrama, reminiscent of John Irving's work in its circus imagery and horrifying losses, occasionally seems misaligned with the Alistair MacLean-like war and ice adventures. But Bowering's characters, steeped in the Canadian virtues of stamina and decency, prove so compelling that few would regard the overabundance of imagery or story lines as anything but a wealth of poetic reflection on tragedy and human endurance.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The labyrinthine plot of this second novel (following To All Appearances a Lady) by Canadian poet and playwright Bowering is almost impossible to summarize. In briefest outline: twin brothers, Gerhard and Albrecht, born to German parents on the Canadian prairie in the Thirties, follow divergent paths in life, and their stories will involve them in nearly every major event of the next 30 years. When World War II breaks out, the brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict after Gerhard is sent to Germany to pursue a musical education, leaving Albrecht behind in Canada. The postwar period also finds them in radically different circumstances?Gerhard ends up in a Siberian labor camp, while Albrecht spends time as a Korean prisoner of war. The narrative shifts between the twins' lives and that of a young Russian pursuing her dream, through hazardous conditions, to become the first woman to reach the North Pole. In the background, at all stages of the brothers' story, their father's belief in and experiments with magnetism, both personal and atmospheric, moves the plot forward and may be the force that draws the disparate characters together at the close. A novel of profound imagination and stylish writing despite its many complications, this work belongs in most contemporary literature collections.?Barbara Love, Kingston P.L., Ontario
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A book that deserves more attention Oct. 10 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I had not heard of the author until I discovered this excellent novel in a London bookshop last month. I am surprised the book did not get more publicity on its publication as it is a cleverly plotted, very original, reader friendly novel. I was frequently reminded of Graham Swift's Waterland, but Visible Worlds has a distinct identity of its own. The author hints early on that her main twenty characters are all linked, but she keeps the reader guessing, teasing us with little clues in each chapter. One family leaves a trail of footprints in the snow that stretches twice around the globe - almost; a trail covered by three family members in a relay that takes more than half a century to complete. The landscapes of Northern Russia and Canada are beautifully evoked - I have recently read several books about Antarctic travel and thought I had read more than enough descriptions of long marches through snow, but Bowering finds ways of avoiding the cliches favoured by other writers. The book has a strong feeling for places, time, distance, family tensions and the Cold War paranoia of the 40s and 50s. I found the book slow at the start, but it is well worth reading through to the end. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good read but characterization not strong enough Dec 5 1999
By Ed Reed - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Good read but characterization not strong enough
The plot of this book was exceptionally well crafted. The imagery and descriptions were written so well, you can truly see yourself in the Arctic Ocean, northern Canada, Siberia, and Germany and everywhere else the author takes us. Reading the book though, I kept thinking there was not enough character development to make me truly feel something for these people. It was almost like too much was happening in too few pages. Still, it is worth reading.

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