Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Visible City


Visible City, by Tova Mirvis
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: March 18, 2014
Category: Literature/Fiction
Source: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

When asked if I would review Visible City, this piece of Amazon's summary caught my attention: "...an intimate and provocative novel about three couples whose paths intersect in their New York City neighborhood, forcing them all to weigh the comfort of stability against the costs of change." As with two books I've recently read for review (Paris, Rue des Martyrs and Wake), Visible City contains one of my favorite plot points - seemingly disconnected characters' lives cross, uniting their different stories into one.

The story begins with Nina, who lives with her husband and two kids in an apartment on the Upper West Side of New York City. With her husband working all hours and two little kids, she isn't able to leave the apartment for a night life, "but it was enough to look out [the window] at the varieties of other people's lives." This phrase instantly seized me, especially when soon after the narration stated: "Nina might be home with her kids, another interminable night with Jeremy at work, but she was also outside, part of the thrumming city." Both sentiments reminiscent of Nick Carraway's commentary in The Great Gatsby: "I was within and without…enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life" as he too looks out over the city and into other windows in wonder of who he is and who others are beyond their appearances.

The story becomes a journey as each character, unhappy in his or her own way, seeks refuge in the lives of others, assuming these others have it all figured out. Nina feels trapped at home while her husband gets to have a life outside their home and all the while her husband feels trapped on his job of long hours with no time for anything else. Claudia and Leon have long felt alone and their grown daughter Emma seems at a loss for what her has become and what it should be. A small cast of other characters intersect the lives of these families as well, all allowing the reader a view of their various searches for and findings of life. Overall, the story is enjoyable and the intersecting of their lives works well.

Any books you'd recommend that have characters with overlapping lives/stories?

12 comments:

  1. Nina living her life through the window of her apartment kind of reminds me of Rear Window.
    I haven't actually heard anything else about this novel but it sounds really interesting. Also, the cover captures my attention.
    :-)
    Bits & Bobs

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    1. I've never read Rear Window. Do you have a review you've written of it? This is the cover of the ARC they sent. The published cover is slightly different, but keeps the same idea with the windows.

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    2. Okay, I changed the cover to the published version now.

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    3. I like both cover versions, I think I prefer the colours on the published version though.

      Regarding Rear Window, unfortunately I have yet to read the book version. I've only watched the film version. I'm keen to get my hands on the book version though.

      :-)

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  2. This sounds like such an interesting book... I (obviously) love books that focus on how lives entwine and the importance of encounters. I'll have to check out this novel!

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    1. Obviously! Haha, it's one of my favorite things in a story too. How funny I've reviewed almost three books in a row like that...it wasn't intentional.

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  3. Replies
    1. And I just changed it...the one there now is the published cover, which they preferred to have showing. The previous one, when you commented, was the working cover. I kinda liked the working cover better because of the stained glass window on it.

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  4. I also love this kind of book! Although I found my last experience with this (The Engagements) a little lacklustre...maybe this is the book I need to read to love it again. And happily it's published on my birthday. A sign?

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