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When Evie and her father say good-bye at the train station, they are both on their own for the first time since her mother's death. But Evie is not lonely for long. At art school in London, she is quickly caught up in colors and critiques, gallery visits and sketching expeditions. She finds fiercely loyal friends-Rob, pragmatic and pregnant; Bianca, dramatic and Italian; and Cecile, the sidelined ballerina-and stumbles tentatively toward a relationship with Zeb, a second-year ...
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When Evie and her father say good-bye at the train station, they are both on their own for the first time since her mother's death. But Evie is not lonely for long. At art school in London, she is quickly caught up in colors and critiques, gallery visits and sketching expeditions. She finds fiercely loyal friends-Rob, pragmatic and pregnant; Bianca, dramatic and Italian; and Cecile, the sidelined ballerina-and stumbles tentatively toward a relationship with Zeb, a second-year sculptor with hair blue-black like a crow.
But when her father arrives in the city, sour with alcohol and slumped on the doorstep of her new home, Evie must determine what she owes her past, and how it will shape the life, and the art, she's trying to create.
Gently and genuinely observed, written with painterly beauty, Invisible River is an unforgettable novel of the mysteries, desolations, and heart-soaring hopes of entering adulthood.
"[A] beautiful, tender novel... It's not surprising that Helena McEwen, who studied art in London, has a great eye for detail. I've seldom read descriptions of London as a beautiful city — maybe Dickens put paid to that — but in McEwen's hands it becomes wondrously so... It's a joy, in so cyncical a time, to find a book that celebrates unapologetic happiness." -Bookpage
"Told in a quiet voice full of artistry and color, this will appeal to fans of literary coming-of-age novels." - Library Journal
"Helena McEwen's coming-of-age tale is defiantly old-fashioned... Yet McEwen writes wich such conversational ease and displays such an artist's eye, that the novel rarely fails to charm. Who knew innocence could be so engaging?" -Financial Times
"Helena McEwen is an artist who brings a painter's eye to her fiction... In its unflinching juxtaposition of shadows and light, pain and happiness, Invisible River is a love story on several levels... Invisible River is about looking, seeing and understanding... an evocative reminder of how it feels to be young." -Guardian
The naïvely voiced, impressionistic tale of a young English art student's painful acquisition of wisdom.
In her U.S. debut, Scottish-based McEwen works hard at capturing her heroine Eve's youth, excitement and fixation with color by giving her a first-person, present-tense narration both choppy and poetic—"It is autumn and the city is lit by yellow trees"—which at times can be exhausting and at other times manages to deliver the emotional intensity of a young woman intuitively in touch with overwhelming feelings. Eve's mother drowned when the child was five, leaving her in the care of her father, who became an alcoholic. So when Eve can finally escape the family home in Cornwall to study art in London, she experiences relief and thrilling freedom. Soon she is swept up in city and student life: close female friendships; art exhibitions; and an attraction to a fellow-student, Zeb. But then her father turns up, drunk and beyond help, and although she lets him stay for a while, eventually, in an angry moment, she sends him away. Guilt follows and a powerful awareness of her father's despair, which concludes with the discovery of his body. Now Eve plunges into grief and depression but is saved by her friends, her creativity and her feelings for Zeb.
Banality and radiance combine oddly in a novel that achieves immediacy but risks claustrophobia.
Posted March 17, 2011
Evie is off to art school in London, leaving behind her widowed, alcoholic father. During the next year she does much soul searching as she deals with loss, love and learning to let go. Through it all, Evie is supported by her amazing circle of friends.
Helena McEwen writes in color. There isn't a lot of story here but the word painting is exceptional. When it comes to beautiful imagery, Helena McEwen is a master.