Synopses & Reviews
In Visible Worlds,
award-winning Canadian poet and playwright Marilyn Bowering has created a beguiling, multilayered fiction that brings together two seemingly disparate stories as it races the shattering personal consequences of war. Spanning the middle part of our century, with World War II and the Korean War as its fulcrum, the novel expertly distills an epic story into a finely limned, elegant narrative of understated proportions.
Set in Canada, Germany, Korea, and the Soviet Union, Visible Worlds begins in 1960, with the death of Nate Bone on a Winnipeg football field, as his family and friends stand by and watch. The story then shifts to the tundra of Siberia, where, at the same time, a young woman identified only as Fika is trying to make her way from the Soviet Union to freedom. As the novel unfolds, these two seemingly unrelated events--literally worlds apart--become key pieces in Bowering's astonishing fictional puzzle.
That puzzle is assembled by Albrecht Storr, one of twin sons of German immigrants, who becomes the primary narrator of the novel. Looking back to 1935, when he, his brother Gerhard, and Nate were children together, Albrecht slowly recounts a chain of extraordinary events set off when Nate, still suffering from the death of his sister, kidnaps an infant girl. That reckless, long undetected act leaves few lives unaffected, and will lead, a quarter of a century later, to Fika's remarkable journey across the spare, life-threatening, yet inconceivably beautiful frozen landscape.
A cast of singular and highly memorable characters play out the drama of Visible Worlds. Albrecht's mother is a proud German whose devotion to what she views as the superior culture of the Fatherland has tragic consequences. His eccentric father believes in the literal power of human magnetism. Nate's mother, a once-beautiful bareback rider, plunges into insanity, while her philandering husband runs off with a tiger trainer for the circus. Seen through the prism of these characters' lives, the public horrors of this century come to reflect a personal legacy of abandonment, betrayal, and collective guilt.
A masterful, highly imaginative storyteller, Marilyn Bowering has infused her fiction with a lyrical magic and haunting emotional resonance.
"In Visible Worlds, Marilyn Bowering stretches a net of precise and capacious language across decades, continents, history, and landscapes, then gradually tightens it until her quarry stands revealed: the conjunctions of will and chance of which human fates are made. And always hovering are the magnetic lines of the heart--which burst forth sometimes in speed or deed, sometimes in celestial displays, always in the abiding mystery of connection."
Spanning several wars and three continents, here is an epic novel of passion, tragedy, and the unpredictable twists of fate that shape human lives.
A Haunting Tale About the Effect of War on Personal lives, this extraordinary novel moves seamlessly from the streets of Depression-era Winnipeg to the polar ice caps of Siberia, and finally into the war-scarred landscape of Korea. It tells the mesmerizing story of twin brothers born into an eccentric family led by a father drawn to the magic of "personal magnetism", and a German-immigrant mother obsessed with the ghosts of the past. When the favored twin is sent back by his mother to the fatherland to study music, he instead becomes an elite soldier in Nazi Germany and vanishes from sight. His sensitive brother moves toward an equally uncertain future, grappling with dark family secrets and the emotional turmoil that envelops his life. At the center of the story is the latter's childhood friend who, driven by his own history and terrible guilt, tries to even out the scales of life, unaware that his own fate lies in its balance.
With Marilyn Bowering's superb gift for storytelling, finely realized characters, and lyrical mastery of language, Visible Worlds resonates with the mystery and mysticism of the worlds we see, and those we can only imagine.
About the Author
Marilyn Bowering is an award-winning poet and playwright whose first novel, To All Appearances a Lady, was a New York Times Notable Book of 1990. She was born in Winnipeg and grew up in Victoria, British Columbia. She has lived and worked in the United States, Greece, Scotland Spain, and Canada and now makes her home in Sooke British Columbia. Visible Worlds was a finalist for the fourth annual Orange Prize in 1998. One of the most important literary awards in Great Britain, the Orange Prize is given each year to the best novel published there that is written by a woman.