Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: March 18, 2014
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?