Visible Worlds Reviews

“…vividly imagined….. Bowering maps the overlapping territory between science and spiritualism, love and madness.  Her family melodrama, reminiscent of John Irving’s work….  Bowering’s characters [are] so compelling…. A wealth of poetic reflection on tragedy and human endurance.”
Publishers Weekly * starred review

“… a writer willing to let her imagination soar into the realms of fantasy….  Exhilarating….   A real page-turner….  [readers] will find themselves enthralled….   [an] intricate narrative web in which Bowering ensnares her readers… [Bowering] is a fine story-teller.  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 characterization.  We care about these people, on their strange pilgrimages of discovery.
The Telegraph

“A novel of profound imagination and stylish writing”
Library Journal

“…a richly imagined, assured work of delicate beauty…  Visible Worlds  teems with the raw energy of humans determined to survive the worst our planet and its inhabitants can dish out….. At some point, each of the book’s major characters disappears, only to be found by another character….  The effect of these overlapping vanishings and materializations is to break down the barrier between objective and subjective worlds – the war-torn visible worlds of the novel’s title and their flip side, the private worlds of faith or memory or the supernatural….   Bowering writes with a poet’s condensed, imagistic prose.  Her language, whether talking about science or mystical belief, is dense and resonant, yet easily readable….  With technical skills to match her idiosyncratic imagination and sense of how people behave, this is an author who seems capable of giving us fiction to learn from as well as to love…..  A shimmering, powerful story about the intertwined lives of three families at mid-century, this novel evokes both great public pain and private human beauty during a time of profound world tension.”
Portland Oregonian

“…an exhilarating book….  [Bowering’s] power of uncluttered description is worth the price of admission on its own.  She also offers a sense of the sheer scale and mystery of life, be it never so painful and unfulfilled for the individual, which itself amounts to faith of a kind – faith at least in the power of art to render the awesome shape and variety of the world and the heroism of human migration across it.”
Orange Prize Shortlist Review – Sean O’Brien

“Any one of the characters could fill up a novel:  together they form a powerful, sweet, sad chorus.”
Los Angeles Times

Visible Worlds is not just another snow book….  Bowering keeps us hanging on like icicles until the dark and wonderful end.”
The Times (London)

“…Bowering’s plain prose and knack for incongruities make it a gripper, well worth its Orange Prize shortlisting.”
The Independent on Sunday

“I read Marilyn Bowering’s second novel, Visible Worlds, during one of the hottest weeks I can remember – and I couldn’t get rid of my goosebumps….  A swirl of chilling scenes with a foreboding story line that moves from Canada to Siberia, Germany and Korea.  Freezing temperatures and vast snow fields convey numbing isolation; eerily beautiful meteor showers and the aurora borealis touch on themes of magnetism and connection to place… .   Bowering has an amazing ability to weave many stories and events together….  She succeeded in showing our universe in constant flux and realignment…Bowering’s storytelling is enhanced by how she presents mysteries – some small, some big – then sprinkles clues during flashbacks, unveiling answers realistically, without dramatics, slowly building trust with the reader….  Visible Worlds reminds us we are all connected to each other and to our histories – and that our lives should be viewed as much more than just the world we can see.”
Seattle Times

“…a tour de force, lavish in its scale, complication and information….  All becomes clear as Bowering unteases the epic story of three families over 30 years, across three continents and through two wars.  With a fine balance of coolness and conviction, she pulls it off….   Visible Worlds is fashionably rich in research….  Yet the book doesn’t sink under all this weight.  On the contrary, it is plainly written and fast-paced and has a certain crispness that suggests Bowering resisted indulging her themes beyond the part they had to play in her overall plan….  Visible Worlds  is written with such panache and is so much fun to read …  It is a wonderful piece of storytelling.”
The Independent on Sunday

“A lyrical modern fable….  The otherworldly, almost folkloric sweetness of Bowering’s narrative casts a redemptive glow over this brooding tale of universal grief and suffering.  Its only real villain is the century itself, whose cruelty no community has been remote or innocent enough to escape unscathed.”
Boston Globe

“…memorably chronicles the toll taken by wars and random accidents upon three families….  Like Pat Barker, Bowering is claiming territory that has long been a masculine preserve….  A narrative high-wire act, as well as a subtle meditation on chance, luck, and inevitability – for all of which war offers the perfect if drastic laboratory.”
Kirkus Reviews

“….a grand, kaleidoscopic view of the world or worlds that Bowering has set out to explore.  It is an ambitious technical gamble, and it pays off in the end.  It is astounding that Bowering has been able to chronicle so much in what is a relatively short book.  The reader reaches the end with the sense of having undertaken a long, complex, enthralling journey in the company of a throng of tragic, ordinary, brave human beings whom he has grown to love….  ”
Alberto Manguel, The Globe and Mail

“Canada has developed a fine tradition of original women writers.  Marilyn Bowering will strengthen it with the publication of Visible Worlds, a novel that defies simple description…  Fine story-telling and crisp, allusive language make this a memorable novel.”
Peter Donaldson, The Bookseller

“Bowering not only uses coincidences to provide her plot with endless twists and turns, but, more intriguingly, she offers a vision of the world as a dizzyingly vast hive of unexpected, intricately complicated, sometimes hidden, only partially comprehensible conjunctions and interconnections….  Interspersed with [the] narrative about the Storrs, the Bones and the Fergussons is a breathtakingly vivid, starkly beautiful account of Fika, a young Soviet woman trying to make her way, alone and on foot, from Siberia across the polar icecap to … freedom….  Visible Worlds is a novel filled with the wonders – and horrors – of human and natural history.

“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 out how much you care.”
The Guardian

“Swooping from the high heavens through the high Arctic, mingling secrets of love gleaned from a closet in Winnipeg with the horrors of germ warfare, Marilyn Bowering’s narrative express rollicks with adventures and deceptions, mixing the fabulous with the terrifying on a meteoric ride.  Visible Worlds is a bold, blistering read, a must read, a meritorious novel of imaginative and moral power.”
Trevor Ferguson

 “…often breathtakingly beautiful …”
The Observer

“[Marilyn Bowering is one of] two more exceptionally gifted Canadian women novelists.”
Rob Cassy, The Bookseller

“…an amazing work that engages the reader’s imagination right from its mysterious opening scene….  The reader who is willing to go along for the ride is in for a rewarding treat.  Bowering is an accomplished writer who skillfully combines elements or realism, mysticism and the paranormal…. A compelling and absorbing story that readers will … want to read all in one sitting.”
The Manitoban

“The story is constantly surprising and yet mysterious, the narrative tense and multi-layered, the writing frequently of great beauty.  I read it through in two sittings and expect to read it again, the second time to savour it.”
Sharon Butala

“Marilyn Bowering is a writer’s writer and a reader’s treasure.”
Susan Swan

  “[Visible Worlds]  is a fabulist invention filled with blazing comets, snowblindness, and one-armed circus performers.  Most of all, Visible Worlds is about the fragile nature of truth and identity…. A gripping story… by turns suspenseful and sorrowful, joyous and disturbing…. [Bowering’s] command of the telling line, the careful use of words, is evident throughout this book….  The characters are so rich and fascinating, the reader doesn’t want to leave them…”
Quill & Quire

“Bowering’s powerful descriptions and assured characterisation keep one absorbed as she meshes together the various elements in the novel.”
Mail and Guardian (South Africa)

“Complex, rich, poetic and inventive, Visible Worlds has plenty of storytelling to satisfy readers who lust after a good yarn.”
David Homel 

“I was hugely impressed by this novel.  Marilyn Bowering tells a haunting story infused with mystery, sadness and wisdom.  Unforgettable.  Plain and simple, Visible Worlds is a delight to read.”
Charles Foran            

 “At a time in our literary history when we tend to praise the mediocre and glorify the banal, it is profoundly refreshing to read a novel that is original, beautifully crafted and genuinely emotional.  Bowering has given us a serious and a seriously noble book.  As a reader I am grateful, as a writer I am even more so.”
Michael Coren,

Visible Worlds is full of unseen forces…  Right from the start we know we’re in for something different….  A book absolutely worth reading.  It’s all-too-human characters, fantastic settings and huge scope are as noteworthy as a comet in the sky.”
Edmonton Journal

“In Visible Worlds, Marilyn Bowering makes darkness visible: the twists, turns, conjunctions of our lives – the coincidences that aren’t coincidences at all – and makes that darkness shine with an eerie shimmer.  A dazzling performance.”
Keith Maillard

“FICTION TO FALL INTO:  Bowering ambitiously explores the mysteries of worlds we can and cannot see and whether people have a choice in the face of true evil.”
The Readers Showcase

“… the tale is held together and moved forward by the passion of the voices telling the story – or rather, by the desire of the story to reveal itself, to end uncertainty…  it is darkly ambitious, somewhat compulsive and immediately complex…”
Vancouver Sun

“In Visible Worlds Marilyn Bowering stretches a net of precise and capacious language across decades, continents, history and landscapes, ten 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 speech or deed, sometimes in celestial displays, always in the abiding mystery of connection.”
Jane Hirshfield

 Visible Worlds would have been a worthy contender [for the Booker shortlist 1998].  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 characterization.  We care about these people, on their strange pilgrimages of discovery.”
Sunday Telegraph

“…delicate….  It all links up in a whirl of northern lights and cross-generational passions.”
The Guardian


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